Combating viruses is often a frustrating business. Find a way to destroy them --- and before you know it, they’ve found a way to defend themselves and neutralize the anti-viral treatment.
Illustration #1 shows the “conventional mutant” action of an influenza virus, in which the channel-blocking element (brown cluster) seals the virus’ channel at left, while at right the virus has narrowed its own channel to prevent the blocker from binding and sealing. In Illustration #2, the “bizarre mutant,” the channel-blocking element (brown cluster) is seen effectively working in the virus at left, while at right the virus has widened its entry point to allow the blocker in, but not to seal.
How, exactly, do the viruses do it? In an article published as the cover story in a recent issue of the journal Proteins, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher, Prof. Isaiah (Shy) T. Arkin, has revealed just how influenza-causing viruses adapt to nullify the effectiveness of the anti-viral drug symmetrel (generic name). The revelation can have significant consequences in leading drug researchers to develop new and more effective means to block influenza and other viruses in the future.
Influenza, Prof. Arkin emphasizes, is a major killer, even though many people tend to shrug it off as an unpleasant seasonal nuisance. In the U.S. it is the leading cause of death from infectious diseases, claiming about 40,000 lives annually, mostly among the elderly.
Jerry Barach | alfa
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