26 February 2013

"Mosquito net" for the flu virus

Canadian researchers from the University of the Province of British Columbia, working under the leadership of Professor Steve Withers, have developed a new drug that prevents the transmission of the influenza virus from cell to cell. Its use made it possible to cure mice infected with lethal strains of the virus for them.

To penetrate into a healthy cell, the influenza virus uses two enzymes that interact with sialic acid molecules that are part of the cell membranes. Hemagglutinin attaches to polysaccharide chains on the surface of erythrocytes containing sialic acid residues, and neuraminidase cleaves them off, which allows viral particles to penetrate through the mucous membranes rich in sialic acid to the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract.

Currently, the most effective antiviral drugs – Tamiflu and Relenza – stop the spread of the virus due to the fact that elements of their structure block the work of neuraminidase. However, influenza viruses are constantly mutating, resulting in strains resistant to naturally occurring neuroaminidase inhibitors.

The structure of the molecule developed by the researchers is very close to sialic acid, but, unlike it, forms very strong covalent bonds with the active center of neuraminidase, blocking it like a lock that fits, but a broken key that is firmly stuck in the keyhole. This ensures the effectiveness of the new drug against a wide range of strains, including lethal ones, of the influenza virus and minimizes the likelihood of the emergence of resistant variants of the virus.

This short cartoon shows the mechanism of action of the drug (its molecules look like yellow granules).

Article by Jin-Hyo Kim et al. Mechanism-Based Covalent Neuraminidase Inhibitors with Broad Spectrum Influenza Antiviral Activity published in the journal Science.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the University of British Columbia:
New flu drug stops virus in its tracks.


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