‘Defensive’ Action By Influenza Viruses
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.
In his research, Arkin, of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Hebrew University’s Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, has demonstrated how flu viruses counteract the symmetrel drug. Assisting him in his work were graduate students Peleg Astrahan and Itamar Kass, as well as Dr. Matt Cooper from Cambridge University in Britain.
Administered at an early stage at the onset of flu symptoms, symmetrel is intended to destroy the virus by binding to and blocking a proton-conducting channel which the virus needs in order to continue functioning and multiplying.
Rather than conceding defeat, however, the virus takes its own counteractions: either by narrowing its channel to the extent that the blocking element in the drug is unable to bind and create a seal, or by widening its channel so that the blocker can get in, but can’t totally seal the channel. Arkin notes that the latter action is the more surprising and unexpected one.
While counteraction of the virus to the drug has been previously noted, this is the first time that the activity that lies behind this phenomenon has been demonstrated, said Arkin. This is because researchers had previously only concentrated on examining the binding action of the blocker to the viruses, but not the process taking place in the viruses’channel. Thus, there was only a limited picture of what was actually happening.
This new information on the mutating abilities of the influenza virus will have to be taken into consideration in further anti-viral research, said Arkin.
Jerry Barach | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
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...
Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions
It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...