These Siblings Have a Rare Genetic Mutation That Makes Them Immune to Viruses
Apr 16, 2014 11:08
A rare genetic disorder in a brother and sister have made them immune to many classes of viruses. Are these two humanity's hope for antiviral treatments?
The siblings' rare genetic immunity to viruses are the second and third ever described of such a rare condition. The first was in a baby who died at 74 days. Both the 11 year old boy and 6 year old girl have reported suffered developmental delays, hearing loss, fragile bones and a weakened immune system.
But what makes them remarkable is that they rarely got ear infections or the flu. Their genetic condition is called glycosylation. It is when a sugar molecule gets attached to a protein, and these resulting proteins are used all over the body which are used by viruses to build a protective shell.
By disrupting those sugar proteins, it stops the viruses. There are so many possibilities to this. From HIV, to hepatitis C, dengue fever, influenza, herpes and more.
The genetic disorder in these kids are so rare it no surprise it isn't well understood. Could they hold the secret to fighting diseases, forever? [NEJM via NBC News]
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