Viruses are insidious creatures. They differ from each other in many ways, and they can mutate — at times seemingly at will, as with HIV — to resist a host of weapons fired at them. Complicating matters further is that new viruses are constantly emerging.
One potential weapon is a small-molecule "broad spectrum" antiviral that will fight a host of viruses by attacking them through some feature common to an entire class of viruses. For example, there are two categories of viruses: lipid-enveloped and non-enveloped. Enveloped viruses are surrounded by a membrane that in effect serves as a mechanism through which a virus inserts its genome into a host cell, infecting it. Is there something out there that might disrupt that action in as many viruses as possible — and not produce unwanted side effects?
A group of researchers led by a team from UCLA and including others from the University of Texas at Galveston, Harvard University, Cornell University and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases may have found just such a compound.
In a proof-of-principle study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers have identified an antiviral small molecule that is effective against numerous viruses, including HIV-1, influenza A, filoviruses, poxviruses, arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, paramyxoviruses and flaviviruses. These viruses cause some of the world's deadliest diseases, such as AIDS, Nipah virus encephalitis, Ebola, hemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever.
Even better, the compound — a rhodanine derivative that the researchers have dubbed LJ001 — could be effective against new, yet-to-be discovered enveloped viruses.
"Since the government has changed its priorities to support development of broad spectrum therapeutics, more and more groups have been screening compound libraries for antivirals that are active against multiple viruses in a specific class," said Dr. Benhur Lee, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the primary investigator of the four-year study.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved broad spectrum antivirals do exist but are rare, for various reasons. Ribavirin, for instance, affects both the virus proteins and the host cell and is effective on only a limited number of viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus and Lassa fever virus. And á–interferon, which is used against the hepatitis C virus, produces unwanted side effects and is too expensive for widespread use.
But the putative mechanism for LJ001 is surprising, according to Lee, who is also a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute.
"We provide evidence that the small molecule binds to both cellular and viral membranes, but its preferential ability to inactivate viral membranes comes from its ability to exploit the biogenic reparative ability of metabolically active cells versus static viral membranes," he said. "That is, at antiviral concentrations, any damage it does to the cell's membrane can be repaired, while damage done to static viral membranes, which have no inherent regenerative capacity, is permanent and irreversible."
Lee and his collaborators developed their concept of LJ001 as interfering only with enveloped viruses after testing 23 pathogens in cell culture. Studies of nine of those agents — including Ebola virus, Nipah virus and Rift Valley fever virus — required high- or maximum-containment facilities and were carried out in the biosafety level 3 and 4 laboratories of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and USAMRIID.
"Once we started testing more and more, we figured out that it was only targeting the enveloped viruses," said Alexander N. Freiberg, director of UTMB's Robert E. Shope, M.D., Laboratory.
The Shope BSL4 lab was also used for mouse experiments with Ebola and Rift Valley fever virus that further confirmed the protective value of LJ001.
While the exact mechanism of viral membrane inactivation is unknown, the researchers are pursuing some promising leads that could answer that question.
Additionally, the drug does not appear to be toxic in vitro or in animals when used at effective antiviral concentrations.
UCLA has filed for a patent on the use of the compound. The study is available in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/27/0909587107.
Other authors are Mike C. Wolf, Tinghu Zhang, Zeynep Akyol-Ataman, Andrew Grock, Patrick W. Hong, Natalya F. Watson, Angela Q. Fang, Hector C. Aguilar, John P. Miller, Steven Chantasirivisal, Vanessa Fontanes, Oscar Negrete, Robert Damoiseaux, Paul Krogstad, Asim Dasgupta, Kym F. Faull and Michael E. Jung, all of UCLA; Alexander N. Freiberg, Sara E. Woodson and Michael R. Holbrook, of the University of Texas at Galveston; Jianrong Li and Sean P. Whelan, of Harvard University; Matteo Porotto and Anne Moscona, of Cornell University; and Anna N. Honko and Lisa E. Hensley, of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The National Institutes of Health, UCLA CFAR, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the March of Dimes, the California NanoSystems Institute, a UCLA Microbial Pathogenesis Training Grant, the Warsaw Fellowship Endowment, and a Rheumatology Training Grant funded this research.
The UCLA AIDS Institute, established in 1992, is a multidisciplinary think tank drawing on the skills of top-flight researchers in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS, the first cases of which were reported in 1981 by UCLA physicians. Institute members include researchers in virology and immunology, genetics, cancer, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, social science, public health, nursing, and disease prevention. Their findings have led to advances in treating HIV, as well as other diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, influenza and cancer.
Enrique Rivero | EurekAlert!
Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University
Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences