A novel manner of attacking flu viruses is being explored by scientists at Rutgers University, after chemical agents that block the virus's ability to replicate itself in cell culture have been discovered.
These novel compounds show promise for a new class of antiviral medicines to fight much-feared pandemic influenzas such as the looming "bird flu" threats caused by the H5N1 influenza A virus and the new H7N9 virus responsible for a 2013 outbreak in China.
Timely production of a vaccine is difficult when a pandemic flu strikes. A viable alternative is to treat with drugs.
Arnold and his collaborators have been working to create drugs beyond Tamiflu, especially ones that target different parts of the virus, using an approach that helped in the development of powerful anti-AIDS drugs. By synthesizing chemical compounds that bind to metal ions in a viral enzyme, the researchers found they could halt that enzyme's ability to activate a key step in the virus's replication process.
In Arnold's words, his team's compounds "really gum up" the targeted enzyme of influenza virus.