Once inside the cell, the presence of the antibody is recognised by a naturally occurring protein in the cell called TRIM21 which in turn activates a powerful virus-crushing machinery that can eliminate the virus within two hours – long before it has the chance to hijack the cell to start making its own viral proteins. "This is the last opportunity a cell gets because after that it gets infected and there is nothing else the body can do but kill the cell," Dr James said.
"The antibody is attached to the virus and when the virus gets sucked inside the cell, the antibody stays attached, there is nothing in that process to make the antibody to fall off.
"The great thing about it is that there shouldn't be anything attached to antibodies in the cell, so that anything that is attached to the antibody is recognised as foreign and destroyed."
Leo James, the lead researcher, speculated that this discovery could lead to effective treatments for cold viruses, among others.
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