Biologists at Yale University (New Haven, CT) are developing a process to trap viruses in habitats that force their extinction. Viruses are chemically lured into the wrong cells, thus preventing virus reproduction and alleviating disease. The research was conducted on phi-6 virus populations in environments containing different mixtures of ordinary source bacteria (a supportive habitat) and mutant “trap” cells (a non-supportive habitat).

The research showed that when the number of trap cells exceeded a key threshold in the mixtures, the virus population could no longer sustain itself and declined toward extinction. The same process could be used with HIV by luring the virus into engineered trap cells that have no nucleus and therefore cannot facilitate viral reproduction.

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