Monday, 06 March 2017 10:57

Small RNA molecules contribute to lung damage caused by the SARS virus

Sección de pulmón de ratón afectado por SARS y tratado con inhibidores de RNA Sección de pulmón de ratón afectado por SARS y tratado con inhibidores de RNA Lucía Morales et al. Cell & Hot Microbe, 2017. / CNB-CSIC

Pulmonary inflammation associated with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused in part by tiny RNA molecules produced by the virus. Infected rodents treated with inhibitors of these small RNAs reduced lung inflammation. These findings could lead to new forms of therapy for patients affected by the disease.

The virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) produces very small RNA molecules (svRNA) that are responsible in part for the intense lung inflammation characteristic of infected patients. This is demonstrated in a study by researchers from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología of the CSIC (CNB-CSIC) published recently in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.

The scientists also showed that inhibiting these small RNAs in infected rodents greatly reduces inflammation. "Our study suggests that these svRNAs could be good targets for treatment of patients infected with SARS, a disease for which there are so far no available vaccines or antivirals," said Luis Enjuanes, a CNB-CSIC researcher and one of the authors of the study.

A virus that emerged in 2002 for which there is no vaccine or treatment.

The SARS virus originated in China in 2002 and in humans produces a very severe pulmonary pathology that leads to death in 10% of young patients and up to 50% in the elderly.

Although the virus is not currently circulating in the human population, it continues to be present in animals such as the bat. The worldwide distribution of these flying mammals increases the possibilities that, as in 2002, there will be future outbreaks of human infection. This also happened with a related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that emerged in the Middle East in 2012.

All organisms, including many viruses, produce small non-coding RNAs in their cells. "For the first time we have detected the presence of svRNAs derived from the SARS coronavirus in the lungs of infected mice. But even more interesting is that, when we administered inhibitors to one of these svRNAs by inhalation to infected mice, lung damage was significantly reduced," explains Isabel Sola, CNB-CSIC researcher and author of the study.

Although experiments showed that inhibiting small RNAs did not reduce the animal’s viral load, it did decrease the inflammatory pathology and pulmonary oedema associated with the disease. According to the scientists, this indicates that the RNAs do not act directly on the replication mechanism of the virus, but promote the host’s inflammatory response.

"The use of small RNA inhibitors as an antiviral therapy has several advantages over other strategies. They are very specific and side effects are avoided. They can also be used in combination with other antiviral therapies to increase effectiveness and safety," says Lucía Morales, CNB-CSIC researcher and author of the study.

"Our work in rodents is a proof of concept that shows the clear therapeutic potential of these small RNA inhibitors in viral infections. It is nonetheless necessary to continue working to optimize dosage and administration parameters that improve the survival results of the animals,"explains Sola.

The scientists conclude, "Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which svRNAs contribute to lung inflammation will help design new antivirals against the pulmonary pathology of SARS."


NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you continue browsing or do not change browser settings, we consider your acepptance for using. Learn more

I understand


A cookie is a text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device via a web server and only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of the cookie and allow the Web site remember browser preferences and navigate efficiently. Cookies make the interaction between the user and the website faster and easier.

General information

This Website uses cookies. Cookies are small text files generated by the web pages you visit, which contain the session data that can be useful later in the website. In this way this Web remembers information about your visit, which can facilitate your next visit and make the website more useful.

How do cookies?

Cookies can only store text, usually always anonymous and encrypted. No personal information is ever stored in a cookie, or can be associated with identified or identifiable person.

The data allow this website to keep your information between the pages, and also to discuss how to interact with the website. Cookies are safe because they can only store information that is put there by the browser, which is information the user entered in the browser or included in the page request. You can not run the code and can not be used to access your computer. If a website encrypts cookie data, only the website can read the information.

What types of cookies used?

The cookies used by this website can be distinguished by the following criteria:

1. Types of cookies as the entity that manages:

Depending on who the entity operating the computer or domain where cookies are sent and treat the data obtained, we can distinguish:

- Own cookies: are those that are sent to the user's terminal equipment from a computer or domain managed by the editor itself and from which provides the service requested by the user.

- Third party cookies: these are those that are sent to the user's terminal equipment from a machine or domain that is not managed by the publisher, but by another entity data is obtained through cookies.

In the event that the cookies are installed from a computer or domain managed by the editor itself but the information collected by these is managed by a third party can not be considered as party cookies.

2. Types of cookies as the length of time that remain active:

Depending on the length of time that remain active in the terminal equipment can be distinguished:

- Session cookies: cookies are a type designed to collect and store data while the user accesses a web page. Are usually used to store information that only worth preserving for the service requested by the user at any one time (eg a list of products purchased).

- Persistent cookies: cookies are a type of data which are stored in the terminal and can be accessed and treated for a period defined by the head of the cookie, and can range from a few minutes to several years.

3. Cookies types according to their purpose:

Depending on the purpose for which the data are processed through cookies, we can distinguish between:

- Technical cookies: these are those that allow the user to navigate through a web page or application platform and the use of different options or services it exist as, for example, control traffic and data communication, identify the session, access to restricted access parts, remember the elements of an order, make the buying process an order, make an application for registration or participation in an event, use security features while browsing store content for dissemination videos or sound or share content via social networks.

- Customization cookies: these are those that allow the user to access the service with some general characteristics based on a predefined set of criteria in the user terminal would eg language, the type of browser through which you access the service, the locale from which you access the service, etc.

- Analysis cookies: they are those that allow the responsible for them, monitoring and analyzing the behavior of users of the web sites that are linked. The information gathered through such cookies are used in measuring the activity of web sites, application or platform and for the profiling of user navigation of such sites, applications and platforms, in order to make improvements function data analysis how users use the service.

Management tool cookies

This Website uses Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that primarily allows website owners know how users interact with your website. Also, enable cookies in the domain of the site in which you are and uses a set of cookies called "__utma" and "__utmz" to collect information anonymously and reporting of website trends without identifying individual users..

For statistics of use of this website use cookies in order to know the level of recurrence of our visitors and more interesting content. This way we can concentrate our efforts on improving the most visited areas and make the user more easily find what they are looking for. On this site you can use the information from your visit for statistical evaluations and calculations anonymous data and to ensure the continuity of service or to make improvements to their websites. For more details, see the link below privacy policy []

How to manage cookies on your computer: disabling and deleting cookies

All Internet browsers allow you to limit the behavior of a cookie or disable cookies within settings or browser settings. The steps for doing so are different for each browser, you can find instructions in the help menu of your browser.

If you decline the use of cookies, since it is possible thanks to the preferences menu of your browser or settings, reject, this website will continue to function properly without the use of the same.

Can you allow, block or delete cookies installed on your computer by setting your browser options installed on your computer:

- For more information about Internet Explorer click here.
- For more information on Chrome click here.
- For more information about Safari click here.
- For more information about Firefox click here.

Through your browser, you can also view the cookies that are on your computer, and delete them as you see fit. Cookies are text files, you can open and read the contents. The data within them is almost always encrypted with a numeric key corresponding to an Internet session so often has no meaning beyond the website who wrote it.

Informed consent

The use of this website on the other hand, implies that you paid your specific consent to the use of cookies, on the terms and conditions provided in this Cookies Policy, without prejudice to the measures of deactivation and removal of cookies that you can take, and mentioned in the previous section.