Scavenger Cells Accomplices to Viruses

Mucosal epithelia are well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, individual viruses, such as the HI virus, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane somehow. Cell biologists from the University of Zurich have now identified a new infection mechanism, demonstrating that the viruses use the body’s own scavenger cells for the infection. The new findings are important for cancer-gene therapy and the development of anti-viral medication.

Mucosal epithelia do not have any receptors on the outer membrane for the absorption of viruses like hepatitis C, herpes, the adenovirus or polio, and are thus well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, certain viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus HIV, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane. Just how this infiltration occurs on a molecular level has been a mystery. Continue reading