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Coronaviruses cut down interferons. How to get around it?

When confronted with a virus, several cell types in the immune system go about producing interferons, which get the ball rolling, so to speak, and mobilize the innate immune system against the invader. Unfortunately for us, coronaviruses, which include SARS-CoV and many cold viruses, inhibit interferon production in some of these cells, derailing the immune response to some extent. But this ability of coronaviruses to induce an interferon response in some cells and not in others is not well understood.

A study just released by mBio examined the process of inhibition and reveals that macrophages, which DO produce interferons after infection, depend on a signaling receptor called IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR). The results suggest that macrophages are an attractive target for drugs that could improve the immune response to enhance virus clearance.

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