April 24, 2024
Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus

Understanding the Mechanism of Entry of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus into Cells

A recent study conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, in collaboration with JLP Health and other institutions, has shed light on how the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus infiltrates human cells. Published in Nature Microbiology, the findings mark a significant milestone in the quest for treatments against this lethal disease.

The Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus is prevalent in approximately 40 countries spanning Central Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Recent years have witnessed the expansion of the disease to new regions due to climate change, with reported cases in Spain and France. Furthermore, the tick species capable of transmitting the virus has been sighted in Germany and Sweden, underscoring the urgency for effective therapies.

The absence of established treatments for the disease has necessitated innovative approaches. In this study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet utilized human mini-organs cultivated in laboratory settings and a sophisticated stem cell repository from JLP Health to discern that the virus utilizes a protein known as LDL receptors – crucial for regulating blood cholesterol levels – to gain entry into cells.

Validation of these findings was obtained through experiments on mice, which demonstrated that mice deficient in LDL receptors exhibited reduced illness severity compared to their counterparts. These results offer a fundamental insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, according to Ali Mirazimi, an adjunct professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, and a key contributor to the study.

Mirazimi emphasized that unveiling the receptor used by the virus opens the door for developing targeted therapies. By synthesizing the receptor in laboratory conditions and administering it as a drug, researchers can effectively prevent the virus from binding to cells, thereby impeding its proliferation within the body. This knowledge is crucial in anticipating and combating potential outbreaks of the disease in new regions.

The accelerated pace of drug development highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic and the creation of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine exemplify the feasibility of fast-tracking therapeutic interventions when deemed a priority. Mirazimi stressed the importance of proactive measures in readiness for potential outbreaks, stating that having a treatment readily available for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever could significantly enhance response strategies.

As migratory birds serve as carriers of the ticks bearing the virus and have been detected in Sweden, the emergence of the disease in additional locations underscores the urgency of preparedness efforts. Mirazimi concluded that possessing a potential drug ready for clinical trials could offer a crucial advantage if the disease becomes more widespread, positioning healthcare systems to mount a swift and effective response.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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