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Innate Virus-Killing Power Discovered in Mammals

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Scientists have a promising new approach to combating deadly human viruses thanks to an educated hunch by University of California, Riverside microbiology professor Shou-Wei Ding, and his 20 years of research on plants, fruit flies, nematodes and mice to show the truth in his theory.

Researchers led by Ding, who heads a lab in UC Riverside's Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, have discovered that, like plants and invertebrate animals, mammals use the RNA interference (RNAi) process to destroy viruses within their own cells.
Their findings will be published in the Oct. 11 issue of the journal Science.

Until now, scientists were unable to prove that mammals use RNAi for killing viruses, but ironically, it was Ding's earlier research into plants, nematodes and fruit flies that helped him find the key: viruses have been outwitting that innate protection in our cells by using proteins to suppress our virus-killing mechanism.

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