At the start of the 21st century, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) remains a serious global health concern. Although RSV has traditionally been acknowledged as a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the paediatric population, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems are now also recognised as being at risk from serious RSV infection. This problem is currently exacerbated by the lack of an effective vaccine to prevent RSV infection. Although the virus proteins play a variety of roles during the virus replication cycle, in many cases these tasks are performed via specific interactions with host-cell factors, including proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. The way in which RSV interacts with the host cell is currently being examined using a battery of different techniques, which encompass several scientific disciplines. This is providing new and interesting insights into how RSV interacts with the host cell at the molecular level, which in turn is offering the hope of new strategies to prevent RSV infection.
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