Scientists of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) have discovered how hemagglutinin (one of the measles proteins) can mutate and change the receptor to which it binds, to be able to enter the cell and thus produce the disease.
In the study, whose results published "Nature Structural Molecular Biology", these researchers have analyzed the way of acting of currently available vaccines, with the aim of designing new antiviral treatments.
Hemagglutinin is responsible for the union of the virus with several receptors located on the surface of the cell, an activity prior to the onset of infection. The CSIC scientists, together with researchers from the Ramón y Cajal Hospital (Madrid) and the University of Tuebinge (Germany), photographed the structure of this union, which allowed them to study the way in which the measles virus identifies the receptors of the cells of the human organism and how the mutation takes place that allows this virus to change the receptor to which it is going to unite and also to know the type of cells that it infects.
This research will be fundamental to design new vaccines that prevent children from contracting measles, and also to try to create new techniques that prevent the virus from penetrating inside the cells.