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Researchers design new anti-influenza drugs


Researchers from and London have designed drugs which could help combat potential new

The drugs work by targeting the receptors of the cells by which the virus gains entry to the human body.

In a paper published in the team, led by LSTM's Richard Pleass, show that by engineering a part of an antibody they can target the viral proteins that allow to mutate and become deadly to humans.

Global annual outbreaks account for 3,00,000 - 6,50,000 respiratory deaths, mostly in children and the elderly.

Speaking about the study, Pleass explained that vaccines have limited public impact during pandemics, and current vaccines are less efficacious than vaccines for many other "This is because that circulate in human and animal populations mutate two key viral surface proteins, haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), thus allowing them to escape from protective produced through or vaccination," Pleass added.

The study finds that both HA and NA target a sugar called sialic acid, that is found in abundance on the receptors of cells lining the mammalian respiratory tract, which the virus uses to gain entry into the body. The sialic acid-binding contacts on HA and NA do not mutate readily, otherwise the virus would not be able to infect human cells.

The team has engineered antibody Fc fragments with enhanced sialic acid that target these conserved parts of both HA and NA, binding and thus blocking their interactions with human cells.

By targeting sialic acid, these engineered biologicals may also be useful in the control of other pathogens, such as group B streptococci, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma genitalium, and Newcastle Disease Virus.

Pleass added, "The transfer of from people recovering from influenza during the 1918 and 2009 pandemics reduced mortality from influenza by 50 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. However, to be useful, these antibody medicines (also called FLU-IVIG) need to be manufactured in advance of future epidemics, which is obviously problematic as there may be modest or little neutralising activity against newly emerging strains. Therefore, combinations of existing medicines, including FLU-IVIG, with sialic acid blockers could increase their efficacy while future-proofing against the next "

Professor Sara Marshall, of Clinical and Physiological Sciences at the Wellcome Trust, who provided funding for this work, said that the study could have really far-reaching impact not only for influenza but as a to develop new medicines for many other that are currently treated by

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 27 2019. 17:18 IST