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West Nile cure possibly discovered by Texas Tech HSC

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EL PASO, TX (KCBD) -

The Texas Tech Health Sciences Center has not yet fully developed a cure for the deadly West Nile Virus.  'Yet' might well be the key word. 

Researchers at Tech's El Paso medical campus have discovered a way to kill the West Nile Virus with RNA or ribonucleic acid.  A spokesperson for the HSC's main campus in Lubbock confirms a report that Dr. Manjunath Swamy and his team have found a way to make their idea work in mice. 

The hope is to get approval for clinical trials and ultimately approval from the Food & Drug Administration. 

Copyright 2012 KCBD.  All rights reserved. 

The Texas Tech Health Sciences Center has not yet fully developed a cure for the deadly West Nile Virus.  'Yet' might well be the key word. 

Researchers at Tech's El Paso medical campus have discovered a way to kill the West Nile Virus with RNA or ribonucleic acid.  A spokesperson for the HSC's main campus in Lubbock confirms a report that Dr. Manjunath Swamy and his team have found a way to make their idea work in mice. 

The process uses saRNA, which are molecules that can target a certain part of DNA replication, and tell the DNA not to recreate that part. This means that the West Nile infected strands wouldn't replicate, allowing the disease to die out with the old cells, and Dr. Swamy says so far this new technology has been very successful.

"Essentially what we do is use short double stranded RNA's and deploy them so they attack the West Nile genome and destroy them."

 "We are trying to use this technology as an anti-viral agent and what we find is that RNA's work greatly in suppressing virus multiplication."

What Doctor Swamy and his team are working on is not a vaccine, it will not prevent people from catching the disease, but once you have the disease their medicine will target and completely kill the West Nile virus.

Dr. Swamy is hoping that clinical trials will begin within the next year, but the process to get FDA approval means the cure wont get to victims for another five years at the earliest, and doesn't guarantee the medicine will even work. He said many new drugs that are tested work very well in animals, but don't translate once they try it on a human.  

Dr. Ronald Warner is a professor of family and community medicine at Texas Tech University. He says Lubbock County may be about to experience a new wave of mosquitoes.

"Reports we're getting now are people infected three to four weeks ago and the last case infection occurred at least two weeks or more and the rains we got, those mosquitoes are not yet with us, so people need to be cautious."

Dr. Warner added that compared to normal seasons with a large number of cases, this year has been unique in that cases are being diagnosed so late in the season. He says usually they decline by the third week of August, which is not the case this year. He added people need to be careful until the first freeze of the year.

That means remembering the four D's. Dress: wear long sleeve shirts and no shorts if possible when you are outside. Drain: make sure there is no standing water around your home. Deet: wear OFF! When you go outdoors, and Dawn and Dusk: make sure you try and avoid going outside during those hours.

Dr. Swamy and his team will continue their testing until they find a definite result, but until then people still need to be smart before going outdoors.

Copyright 2012 KCBD.  All rights reserved.

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