Research Shows Promise for New Flu Drugs

Published Online: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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Researchers at Rutgers University have identified chemical agents that may be the key to developing a new class of antiviral medicines to treat influenza.

Using the same technique used in previous research which helped to develop anti-AIDS drugs, the scientists found they could stop a viral enzyme from replicating itself by synthesizing chemical compounds that bind to metal ions in the enzyme. The process was attempted by pharmaceutical companies 2 decades ago, but they were limited by the technology available at the time.

Technology that produces high-resolution images of the influenza enzymes is needed to find the proteins and to see them in detail. Once the researchers identify the compounds, they modify them to make them more powerful and selective in blocking the activity of the enzyme.

The influenza enzyme the researchers are targeting takes chemical structures from human cells in order to replicate and to disguise the flu virus. Using the newly developed inhibitors, the team is able to block the enzyme, stopping the flu from disguising itself.

The researchers note in their study, published online on August 26, 2013, in ACS Chemical Biology, that the development of new drugs to treat influenza is becoming increasingly important as strains develop resistance to Tamiflu.

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