Hook ’Em Health

Research into viruses that occur only in animals can pave the way for the next medical breakthrough for people. While studying the bovine virus that killed UT Austin’s last beloved mascot, Bevo XIV, Chris Sullivan, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, came upon something surprising. An enzyme that makes the bovine virus worse has a very different – and opposite – effect on a human virus, Hepatitis C. 

Roughly 3 million people in the United States alone suffer from Hepatitis C, a disease that’s costly to treat. New drugs could capitalize on the lesson Sullivan and his team learned from first studying a longhorn’s leukemia.

For more on the research and to see an animation on how it works, visit txsci.net/bevo

UT scientists studying bovine leukemia virus discovered that a protein called DUSP11 acts on the ends of viral RNA. When that happens, the bovine virus replicates. 

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But when the team tested DUSP11 in a human virus, Hepatitis C, they learned the enzyme restricts Hep C.

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This discovery helps explain our bodies’ natural defenses against a dangerous virus and could help lead to more affordable treatments.