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UA researchers get $8.9M to study how viruses attack our bodies

Posted at 6:02 AM, Jan 26, 2018

Researchers at the University of Arizona are getting $8.9 million to investigate how viruses attack our bodies--specifically the herpes virus.

The hope is to understand how viruses sit in our bodies for years without creating symptoms and then attack months or even years later. Long term, doctors can eventually create a drug stop the virus.

The herpes virus is able to control certain functions in our cells, and by understanding how the virus does that, researchers can learn how to kill the virus while it's sitting dormant. Seventy to 90% percent of people have the herpes virus and don't know it.

These infections are currently the leading cause of birth defects and can create serious health complications. By controlling the herpes virus, researchers can not only cure herpes but potentially stop other viral infections too. 

Researchers say the herpes virus also has similar characteristics to cancer cells, so this research could lead to some breakthroughs in cancer treatment.