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Food Additive Could Prove To Be An Effective Virus Blocker

October 23, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that an FDA-approved food additive known as tert-butyl hydroquinone “attaches to the Achilles heel” of the deadly H7N9 virus, disabling a special protein and making infection impossible. Flu viruses enter host cells via the protein hemagglutinin, which acts as a "key" that opens receptors on the cell surface. Existing drugs do not target the protein, but in lab experiments tert-butyl hydroquinone prevented the virus from infecting human lung cells. Tert-butyl hydroquinone is used in many foods as a preservative and stabilizer, but it is unknown whether it is safe when consumed in very high doses.
Aleksandar Antanasijevic et al., "Inhibition of Influenza H7 Hemagglutinin-Mediated Entry", PLoS ONE, October 23, 2013, © Antanasijevic et al.
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