‘Good’ viruses? Tapping human viruses to address untreatable diseases

Electron microscopic image of two Epstein-Barr virus virions. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

After living through the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, it’s understandable that most people consider viruses to be our enemies causing illness and harm to humans. However, this outlook fails to consider the many surprising advantages these submicroscopic collections of genetic code afford scientists in pushing the boundaries of medicine.

Viruses have honed advantageous skills over billions of years of evolution to invade and hijack the cellular machinery of living organisms, including bacteria, fungi, animals and, importantly, humans. As such, this ability to manipulate life has enabled researchers to gain insights into how best to exploit this advantage for good. This effort has already yielded new biological therapies to treat a wide range of diseases, including rare, inherited disorders treated with gene and…

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