Study points to new means of overcoming antiviral resistance in influenza

July 12, 2011

UC Irvine researchers have found a new approach to the creation of customized therapies for virulent flu strains that resist current antiviral drugs.

Using powerful , UCI's Rommie Amaro and Robin Bush created a method to predict how pocket structures on the surface of influenza proteins promoting can be identified as these proteins evolve, allowing for possible pharmaceutical exploitation.

"Our results can influence the development of new drugs taking advantage of this unique feature," said Amaro, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and computer science. The study appears online in Nature Communications.

The search for effective has always been hampered by the itself, which mutates from strain to strain, making it difficult to target with a specific pharmaceutical approach.

The most common clinical flu treatments are broad-based and only partially effective. They work by interrupting the action of an in the virus called neuraminidase, which plays a critical role in viral replication.

In 2006, scientists discovered that avian influenza neuraminidase exhibited a distinctive, pocket-shaped feature in the area pinpointed by clinically used drugs. They named it the 150-cavity.

Amaro and Bush, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, conducted research at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the National Institute for Computational Sciences to learn the conditions under which the pockets form.

They created molecular simulations of flu proteins to predict how these dynamic structures move and change and where and when the 150-cavity pockets will appear on the protein surface. This sequence analysis method could be utilized on evolving , providing vital information for drug design, Amaro said.

She added: "Having additional antivirals in our treatment arsenal would be advanta¬geous and potentially critical if a highly virulent strain – for exam¬ple, H5N1 – evolved to undergo rapid transmission among humans or if the already highly transmissible H1N1 pandemic virus was to develop resistance to existing antiviral drugs."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fighting the aging process at a cellular level

September 22, 2016

It was about 400 BC when Hippocrates astutely observed that gluttony and early death seemed to go hand in hand. Too much food appeared to 'extinguish' life in much the same way as putting too much wood on a fire smothers ...

Tattoo therapy could ease chronic disease

September 22, 2016

A temporary tattoo to help control a chronic disease might someday be possible, according to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine who tested antioxidant nanoparticles created at Rice University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.