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Wikipedia states "Virophages are satellite viruses that inhibit or impair the reproduction of the auxiliary virus."

Is it theoretically possible for a virophage that doesn't hurt the human body to attach itself to a more serious virus like the AIDS virus for example and be used to wipe out the virus, or at least inhibit it's reproduction? I'm completely ignorant of the virophage relationship, so feel free to inform me as needed.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are few enough virophages occurring in nature that I don't know if there's a clear and compelling case for them being potentially therapeutic.

In principle however, the answer is yes, though they may suffer from the same problems that bacteriophage treatments have suffered during their history - difficulty in preparation, extreme species specificity, and fairly daunting regulatory hurdles. While viral diseases don't have the "Or we could just use antibiotics, which work" out which made bacteriophages less popular, as far as I know there's not been a suggestion of widespread virophages against human pathogens.

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In theory it should be possible, though this approach seems to be limited by the nature of the virophages known today. They seem to "infect" (this is actually wrong, since they take use of some of the proteins produced by the mama virus and do not infect these viruses) only very big DNA viruses.

This article (which is interesting to read in this context) talks about 400nm for the mimivirus, which is quite a lot. The problem is that many of the viruses which are interesting are fast mutating RNA viruses like HIV and the Ebola virus.

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protected by Chris Aug 12 '14 at 5:36

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