A compound that inhibits the replication of different viruses has been identified by researchers.
The compound prevents the replication of viruses by depriving them of an essential host factor.
The researchers led by Dr. Albrecht von Brunn of LMU Munich and Professor Christian Drosten from the University of Bonn first identified host proteins with which SARS viral proteins interact.
This strategy led to the finding that a cellular signalling pathway is essential for the replication not only of the SARS virus, but also of a whole set of related viruses that are pathogenic to humans and animals.
"This signal pathway is normally involved in regulating the immune system. We used a substance that inhibits the function of one of the proteins in the pathway, and found that it suppresses viral replication," said Drosten.
In other words, drugs that block this pathway inhibit the replication of many different viruses, and therefore act as broad-spectrum antivirals.
This opens a route to the treatment of conditions caused by the SARS virus, but also a whole variety of human coronaviruses, and pathogens that infect the internal organs of chickens, pigs and cats.
Inhibition of this pathway does not damage the host, because parallel pathways can compensate for its normal role in the cell.
The new study recently appeared in PloS Pathogens.