A study has found a new approach to the creation of customized therapies for virulent flu strains that resist current antiviral drugs.
UC Irvine researchers, Rommie Amaro and Robin Bush, used powerful computer simulations to create a method to predict how pocket structures on the surface of influenza proteins promoting viral replication can be identified as these proteins evolve, allowing for possible pharmaceutical exploitation.
"Our results can influence the development of new drugs taking advantage of this unique feature," Amaro, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and computer science, said.
Amaro and Bush, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, conducted research at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the National Institute for Computational Sciences to learn the conditions under which the pockets form.
They created molecular simulations of flu proteins to predict how these dynamic structures move and change and where and when the 150-cavity pockets will appear on the protein surface.
Amaro said this sequence analysis method could be utilized on evolving flu strains, providing vital information for drug design.
"Having additional antivirals in our treatment arsenal would be advantageous and potentially critical if a highly virulent strain - for example, H5N1 - evolved to undergo rapid transmission among humans or if the already highly transmissible H1N1 pandemic virus was to develop resistance to existing antiviral drugs," she added.
The study appears online in Nature Communications.