A new discovery has apparently put scientists one step closer to developing drugs against the winter vomiting disease.
They have found that the virus that causes winter vomiting disease invades cells by attaching to particular sugar molecules on the surface of the cells.
"We are aiming to develop a drug that can be given to vulnerable persons and to children in day-care when it has become clear that another epidemic is starting to break out. More research will, however, be required. Our results are important steps along the way, but it will probably be several years before a drug is commercially available", said Gustaf Rydell.
Rydell's study has shown how the virus for winter vomiting disease can attach to cells by binding to special sugar chains.
One of these chains is characterised in that it has a monosaccharide known as sialic acid at its end.
Rydell's study has also shown that the virus binds to such sugar chains even when they are not part of the cell surface.
This means that it may be possible for the sugar chains to prevent the virus infecting the cells by blocking its binding structures.
"Our results suggest that the sugar chains that have sialic acid are important for infection by the virus, but this must be confirmed. If it is true, it would be possible to develop a drug that blocks the access of the virus to the sugar molecule. One thing that we must investigate first, however, is whether there are other target molecules that the virus can use to enter the cell. These may be the starting point for even more effective drugs", said Rydell.
Rydell presented his thesis at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.