February 21, 2017

What are Adenoviruses?

Adenoviruses

The body is filled with all sorts of viruses, bacteria, and germs. Some are harmful. Some are benign. Still others are necessary to the human body’s survival.

The adenovirus is one such virus found in the body, but what are they? How do adenoviral vectors help science?


Adenoviruses in the Everyday

 

Adenoviruses received their name from first being isolated in the adenoids, which are found in the posterior of the nasal cavity where the nose blends into the throat.

Adenoviruses are mainly responsible for a number of respiratory illnesses, though they can also cause illnesses unrelated to the respiratory system, including:

–          Gastroentitis

–          Conjunctivitis and other eye infections

–          Cystitis (infection of the bladder)

–          Rashes

An adenovirus infection can cause symptoms similar to a common cold, but symptoms may also be severe enough to resemble pneumonia, bronchitis, and croup. Adenovirus is also known to cause acute respiratory disease.

 

Younger children and infants are most susceptible to adenovirus infections. In fact, most children will have dealt with an adenovirus infection by the age of 10. This is only exacerbated by the fact that adenovirus is so contagious, making classrooms a perfect setting for the spread of adenovirus.

 

Although they are common, adenovirus infections do not require hospitalization. In most cases, a child’s body will get rid of the virus over time, usually within a few days. Antibiotics are useless because adenovirus is a virus.


Adenovirus vs. Cancer

 

Despite being the cause of common childhood illnesses, adenoviruses actually serve an important purpose in the fields of science and medicine. Adenovirus vectors have become incredibly important in scientific research.

 

First, let’s understand some things about cancer. Research has found that cancer is caused by DNA damage, which occurs naturally and tends to accumulate through the course of a person’s life. Subtle variations in the genes can increase or decrease a person’s risk of cancer. Furthermore, errors in cellular signaling (which is your body’s basic means of communication between cells) can lead to cancer and other autoimmune diseases.

 

Recombinant adenoviruses can be used to introduce genetic material into host cells. In conjunction with cell signaling technology, recombinant adenoviruses can be used as a vehicle for targeted therapy to treat cancer by successfully blocking the growth of cancer cells.

 

Recombinant adenovirus is also the main vector used in genomics research, which is research conducted on DNA and an organism’s hereditary information. Hopefully, genomic research can find a way to locate and eliminate the genes that cause cancer.

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