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Can viruses kill other diseases ?

Graeme Price g.e.price at bham.ac.uk
Sat Aug 26 10:13:17 EST 1995

In article <41kajr$rcr at lucy.swin.edu.au>, 069537 at edna.swin.edu.au (Daniel
Roger Bucknell) wrote:

> I was just wondering, is there a virus that can for example infect a 
> person with cancer, E-Coli or some other bacterial infection and then the 
> virus kills off the offending bacteria if our immune system cannot ?  
> Are there viruses that can do that at all so that instead of Hepatitis 
> for example infecting and stuffing up our liver couldn't some virus be 
> made to kill off other bacteria or even other viruses ?
> Doh, not the best of wording there but you get the idea I hope, could you 
> reply via email cause I can't use these newsgroups all that often.
> Thanks, CYA

There is some evidence that one strain of a virus can reduce the severity
of co-infection from another strain. If you infect an animal with a
defective influenza virus for example, that virus can interfere with a
virulent strain inoculated into the animal at the same time. Some
researchers believe that such "defective interfering particles" (which may
not be able to replicate to high levels in the absence of a helper virus)
could be a future therapy for some viral diseases. Others feel that they
would simply reduce the level of replication such that a persistent
(perhaps asymptomatic) infection could result. The jury is still out, I

A couple of good references are:-

Chambers & Webster (1991) Protection of chickens from lethal influenza
virus infection by influenza A/chicken/Pennsylvania/1/83 virus:
characterization of the protective effect. Virology 183, 427-432.

Bangham & Kirkwood (1993) Defective interfering particles and virus
evolution. Trends in Microbiology 1 (7), 260-264.

[Incidentally, using DIPs isolated from an HIV patient as a vaccine was
the fictional method of "curing" the AIDS pandemic in the William Gibson
novel "Virtual Light" - not that I suppose it would work in real life]



Graeme Price
Microbial Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology Group, 
School of Biological Sciences, Biology West Building,
University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
West Midlands, B15 2TT.
United Kingdom.

Tel. (+44) (0)121 414 6555
Fax. (+44) (0)121 414 6557
E-mail g.e.price at bham.ac.uk

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