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NIH Study Shows Genetic Defect May Confer Resistance to Certain Viral Infections
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reports that a rare genetic disease, while depleting patients of infection-fighting antibodies, may actually protect them from severe or recurrent viral infections. The disease, called congenital disorder of glycosylation type IIb (CDG-IIb), impairs a process called glycosylation, or the attachment of sugars to proteins. The glycosylation defects disrupted the ability of HIV and influenza viruses to replicate in the patients’ cells. This study suggests that modulating aspects of host glycosylation may be a strategy to control certain viral infections. The study appears in the April 9, 2014, online issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.