By: Lisa Podolsky, BS.c, Tel Aviv University
Many knights differ from each other by their armor, depending on their enemies’ level, and type of armor. You may compare it to the different composition of many viruses in nature, that adopt a specific outer envelope depending on their host.
The role of the virus’ outer envelope is first and foremost to protect it, mainly due to the fact that viruses are parasites that cannot survive outside the host cell .
If by any chance you ever had those annoying cold sores in your mouth, you are probably infected with herpes. It turns out that the symptoms are usually limited to sores or blisters, and it doesn’t end here- evidently, the virus stays in your body in a latent state, which is basically similar to falling asleep.
In this state, amazingly, it has the ability to hide from your immune system! And finally, in some cases such as stress or strong sunlight it will travel back to your skin and eventually cause an eruption of cold sores on your mouth [2,3].
In the case of Herpes virus, scientists have discovered that the structure of its outer envelope is similar to a grid, a “mesh like” structure if you may, allowing it to withstand enormous environmental pressures, and explains why herpes can maintain long-term infections [4,5].
Let me remind you that up to date, there is no Herpes vaccine, so what’s striking about this discovery is that it may open up new possibilities for vaccine developments.
It is very important to find a vaccine since it would prevent the continued suffering of Herpes patients as well as the economic burden caused by the needed treatment.
Finally, we are on the right path for discovering a herpes vaccine. We must rely on talented scientists around the world, who dedicate themselves completely in order to discover new facts about herpes virus.
1. Wimmer, Eckard, et al. “Synthetic viruses: a new opportunity to understand and prevent viral disease.”Nature biotechnology 27.12 (2009): 1163-1172.
2. Nahmias, André J., and William E. Josey. “Herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2.” Viral infections of humans. Springer US, 1984. 351-372.
3. Whitley, Richard J., David W. Kimberlin, and Bernard Roizman. “Herpes simplex viruses.” Clinical Infectious Diseases (1998): 541-553.\
4. Scientific American – Crow, D. The Epstein–Barr Virus Wears Chain Mail. Published on October 13, 2014.
5. Zhou, Z. Hong, et al. “Four Levels of Hierarchical Organization, Including Noncovalent Chainmail, Brace the Mature Tumor Herpesvirus Capsid against Pressurization.”Structure” 22.10 (2014): 1385-1398.