Viruses' copying mechanism demystified, opening the door to new vaccine strategies

Certain kinds of viruses such as those that cause the common cold, SARS, hepatitis, and encephalitis, copy themselves using a unique mechanism, according to a team of Penn State scientists that includes David Boehr, an assistant professor of chemistry and a co-leader of the research team. The discovery sheds light on a previously identified, but never-before-understood region of an enzyme associated with the process of replicating genetic material. The research is an important step toward the improvement of existing vaccines, as well as toward the design of vaccines against viruses that have eluded vaccination strategies in the past.

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