New Potential Antivirals Discovered for Influenza, Zika

The peptide, also known as Pept-ins, already proved to be a valuable approach to tackle bacterial pathogens or slow down tumor growth, according to the study authors.

Researchers have arranged synthetic amyloids to trigger protein misfolding as a strategy to combat the influenza A and Zika virus, according to a press release from VIB-KU Leuven.

Amyloids are particular protein assemblies with properties similar to silk that serve numerous functions, such as forming upon protein misfolding resulting in inactivation.

The researchers invented a synthetic amyloid peptide that can be tailored to switch off the function of desired target proteins. The peptide, also known as Pept-ins, already proved to be a valuable approach to tackle bacterial pathogens or slow down tumor growth, according to the study authors.

Two Pept-ins were designed to encode virus-specific amyloid sequences identified in influenza A and Zika virus proteins.

“We found that each amyloid interferes with the replication of the corresponding virus,” said Emiel Michiels, PhD student in the lab of Joost Schymkowitz and Frederic Rousseau, 2 of the lead researchers in the study. “For influenza A we show that our synthetic amyloid accumulates at the site of infection and interferes with viral replication in mice. The amyloid binds to the viral target protein, forcing the protein into a non-functional conformation. Influenza B is not affected by this Pept-in, highlighting the sequence specificity of this interaction.”

The new antivirals broaden the therapeutic potential of the Pept-in technology platform, and the researchers hope to investigate whether the same approach also work to target other types of viruses.

REFERENCE

New antivirals for influenza and Zika. VIB. https://vib.be/news/new-antivirals-influenza-and-zika. Published June 8, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2020.