"By painstakingly silencing genes one at a time, scientists at Duke University Medical Center have identified dozens of proteins the dengue fever virus depends upon to grow and spread among mosquitoes and humans.
The research, appearing in the April 23 issue of the journal Nature, opens the door to new ways to potentially prevent or treat the disease, which infects millions of people around the globe every year.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause debilitating sickness and death. According to the World Health Organization, almost half the people in the world are vulnerable to the dengue virus. Public health officials are worried because dengue appears to be popping up in places where it has rarely appeared before and there is some concern that current epidemics are may be fueled by global warming.
"Dengue is a nasty disease, and right now, there is no treatment for it and no way to prevent it," says Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical Center and senior author of the study. "But if we can find a weakness in the virus, we can design a strategy to fight it. This study has helped us identify some gaps in dengue's armor."
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