Current Affairs: An international team of researchers have identified protein molecules that could be blocked to prevent flu viruses from multiplying effectively.
They analysed datasets from independent publications on IAV host molecules. These studies focus on the totality of the genes (‘GenOMICs’) and proteins (‘ProteOMICs’) required for the virus and generate a vast quantity of data.
The comprehensive analysis of these ‘OMIC’ databases, 20 previously unknown host molecules that promote the growth of influenza A viruses have been discovered.
One of these host proteins is UBR4, which the virus needs to transport viral proteins to the cell membrane and construct new particles.
The influenza A virus invades the host cell. The viral components are then carried to the cell surface, where they form new viruses. Consequently, as many as 20,000 new influenza viruses can develop from one, single infected host cell.
The study shows that blocking UBR4 inhibits the production of new virus particles in infected cells. In mice, for instance, the IAV replication could be weakened and the progress of the disease slowed.
In recent years, influenza A viruses (IAV) have been discovered that are resistant to current drugs against flu.
The study therefore provides evidence that blocking host molecules is feasible as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of influenza.