07 June 2012

Anti-influenza proteins

Scientists have learned how to "program" proteins to destroy influenza viruses

UnivadisAmerican researchers have demonstrated that some natural proteins with the help of bioengineering can be "programmed" to work as a broad-spectrum antiviral agent.

They will be able to destroy a variety of influenza virus strains, including the dangerous H1N1 strain. The results of the scientists' research are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology (Whitehead et al., Optimization of affinity, specificity and function of designed influenza inhibitors using deep sequencing – VM).

Since influenza remains a serious threat to global health due to periodic gene mutations that make some strains even more virulent, scientists around the world are focused on finding new ways to treat and prevent influenza. However, vaccines against new strains of the virus take many months to develop, test and manufacture; moreover, they do not help those who are already ill. During the creation of a new vaccine, the flu virus manages to mutate again, and the vaccines turn out to be useless.

Dr. David Baker, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, and his colleagues modified proteins using computer modeling so that the proteins perfectly match hemagglutinin (H) located on the surface of influenza viruses, just as a key and a lock fit together. As soon as the protein binds to the virus, it blocks the ability of the virus to change shape – it is thanks to this ability that viruses penetrate into living cells and begin to multiply. According to the professor, some of these modified proteins have a very powerful antiviral potential, rivaling the effectiveness of human monoclonal antibodies.

The results of the first experiments show that the proteins developed in Baker's laboratory are able to bind to all types of influenza viruses from group I by hemagglutinin – it includes not only H1 strains, but also pandemic H2 strains and H5 strains of avian influenza. Further improvement of these proteins will help not only to effectively treat the flu, but also to create new methods of its prevention. In the future, the technique of creating special modified proteins may form the basis for the therapy of many infectious diseases. To do this, scientists will only need to modify the proteins in such a way that they exactly match the infectious agents and are able to bind firmly to them.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru07.06.2012

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