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

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

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.