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GENE THAT FIGHTS VIRAL INFECTION DISCOVERED

 CLEVELAND, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A gene important in fighting viral infections and possibly cancer has been isolated by scientists at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
 The research team, led by Robert H. Silverman, Ph.D., of the Cleveland Clinic's Department of Cancer Biology, reports its findings in the March 12 issue of the journal "Cell."
 The scientists cloned the gene for 2-5A-dependent RNase, a protein that allows interferon to inhibit virus and cell growth. Interferons are responsible for a remarkably wide range of critical functions, including resisting viral infections and cancer.
 Isolating the gene was achieved in a several-year effort by Silverman and his colleagues, Bret A. Hassel, Ph.D., and Aimin Zhou, M.S.
 Although scientists know what interferon does, they are still investigating how it works.
 Because of the gene's importance in how interferon works, its cloning is a significant advance in virus and cancer research. "It will allow researchers to explore the precise way in which interferon leads to protection against viral infections and cancer," Silverman said. "Eventually, this could lead to enhanced protection against viruses and cancer through gene therapy."
 Interferon works, in part, by switching on the gene discovered by the Cleveland Clinic researchers. When viruses infect interferon- treated cells, they can cause their own destruction by triggering synthesis of a substance known as 2-5A, discovered by Ian M. Kerr, Ph.D., in London in 1978. The 2-5A activates 2-5A-dependent RNase, which, in turn, stops the virus from reproducing by destroying the viral RNA.
 The gene also may be involved in interferon's anti-cancer activity by degrading the RNA of cancer cells treated with interferon.
 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation is a multispecialty academic medical center providing state-of-the-art care while advancing the frontiers of medicine. Since its founding in 1921, the integration of clinical and hospital care with research and education in a private, non-profit group practice has distinguished the Cleveland Clinic in American medicine. Today at the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida, nearly 600 full-time salaried physicians represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. Every year the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida provide for more than 780,000 outpatient visits and 32,000 hospital admissions from throughout the United States and over 80 countries.
 -0- 3/12/93
 /CONTACT: Elaine DeRosa, 216-444-8927; or Jim Armstrong, 216-444-9455; both of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation/


CO: Cleveland Clinic Foundation ST: Ohio IN: HEA SU:

BM -- CL008 -- 5581 03/12/93 14:35 EST
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Date:Mar 12, 1993
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