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Light zaps viruses: How photosensitization can stop viruses from infecting cells

A UCLA-led team of researchers has found evidence that photosensitizing a virus's membrane covering can inhibit its ability to enter cells and potentially lead to the development of stronger, cheaper medications to fight a host of tough viruses.

The UCLA AIDS Institute study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Virology, is part of ongoing research on a compound called LJ001, a "broad-spectrum" antiviral that can attack a wide range of microbes.

The current paper advances the science by showing that the process of photosensitization — heightening a biological organism's sensitivity to certain damaging processes induced by light — applies to more than just LJ001. This could pave the way for a cost-effective way to make blood products safer, which is particularly important in resource-poor countries where deadly viruses run rampant.

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