An international team of researchers has identified an antiviral small molecule that has been found effective against numerous viruses.
The new molecule can block the action of numerous virus including HIV-1, influenza A, filoviruses, poxviruses, arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, paramyxoviruses and flaviviruses.
These viruses cause some of the world's deadliest diseases, such as AIDS, Nipah virus encephalitis, Ebola, hemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever.
The compound - a rhodanine derivative that the researchers have dubbed LJ001 - could be effective against new, yet-to-be discovered enveloped viruses.
Enveloped viruses are surrounded by a membrane that in effect serves as a mechanism through which a virus inserts its genome into a host cell, infecting it.
The putative mechanism for LJ001 is surprising, say researchers.
"We provide evidence that the small molecule binds to both cellular and viral membranes, but its preferential ability to inactivate viral membranes comes from its ability to exploit the biogenic reparative ability of metabolically active cells versus static viral membranes," said Dr. Benhur Lee, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the primary investigator of the four-year study. "That is, at antiviral concentrations, any damage it does to the cell's membrane can be repaired, while damage done to static viral membranes, which have no inherent regenerative capacity, is permanent and irreversible."
The mouse experiments have further confirmed the protective value of LJ001.
The study is published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.