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How the body fights dengue fever

We don’t hear a whole lot about dengue fever here in the U.S., but it is a really big problem: worldwide, dengue fever strikes roughly 50 million people every year and takes the lives of thousands, but there are currently no specific treatments and no vaccine to prevent infection with the dengue virus. A study published in mBio this week describes a new discovery about how the body fights the dengue virus, a finding that could explain differences in the ability to fight off the virus and help in developing a drug to boost this response.

Avirutnan et al. report that a part of the immune system called mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is involved in targeting dengue viruses for destruction. MBL recognizes sugar molecules present on the outsides of many different kinds of viruses and bacteria. When it finds these sugars, MBL can activate the complement system, which targets foreign materials in the body for destruction in any of a number of cruel ways. Scientists have suspected that the complement system may play a role in causing dengue disease, but until now no one knew that it may also be involved in getting rid of the virus and contributing to protection against this infection.

Click on the "source" link to read more on mBio's blog.

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