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Unwelcome guests: How viruses take over cells

Welcome to Biomed Bites, a weekly feature that introduces readers to some of Stanford’s most innovative biomedical researchers.

Viruses are the ultimate uninvited guests. They barge in and make themselves perfectly at home — feeling free to use, say, your waffle maker to whip up a nice breakfast and to co-opt your favorite easy chair for their own purposes.

In cells, many mysteries remain about how viruses take over enzymes and other systems in cells to reproduce.

That's exactly what Peter Sarnow, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology, and his team investigate. From the video above:

My lab is interested in studying virus-host interactions. In particular, we're interested in learning how viruses subvert functions from the host cell such as using the ribosomes to synthesize their own proteins.

He explains a recent discovery his team has worked on that may lead to better treatments for hepatitis C infections. "I'm very optimistic this will be beneficial and is a good example of how basic science really translates into translational medicine," Sarnow says.

Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Why are viruses so wily? One research thinks she knows — and is working to thwart them, Ending enablers: Stanford researcher examines genes to find virus helpers and To screen or not to screen for hepatitis C

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