Finding A Flu Fighter | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 15 | p. 35 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 9, 2012

Finding A Flu Fighter

Small molecule battles influenza virus in a novel way
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: flu, influenza, RNA polymerase

A small molecule that inhibits influenza viruses via a novel mechanism has been added to scientists’ flu-fighting arsenal (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1119817109). Current influenza drugs either aren’t effective against deadly influenza B strains or are prone to resistance. A team led by Arianna Loregian and Giorgio Palù, of Italy’s University of Padua, and Gabriele Cruciani, of Italy’s University of Perugia, chose to target influenza virus’s RNA polymerase. This trimeric protein complex is highly conserved in different viral strains, and a portion of its structure has recently been visualized with X-ray crystallography. The researchers used a computer program to screen 3 million compounds and found 32 molecules that could disrupt the RNA polymerase complex. They then tested those compounds for their ability to block virus growth in cells. From those tests, one compound emerged as being particularly effective against the virus and was even able to inhibit the replication of a flu strain that is resistant to the antiviral compound oseltamivir.

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