In a new study, researchers developed a new therapy for influenza virus infections that may also prove effective against many other pathogenic virus infections, including HIV and COVID-19.
The research was conducted by Purdue University scientists.
In an average year, more than 2 million people in the United States are hospitalized with the flu, and 30,000 to 80,000 of them die from the flu or related complications.
Because these exported viral proteins are not present in the membranes of healthy host cells, the Purdue team has exploited the presence of viral proteins in infected cells by designing homing molecules that target drugs specifically to virus-infected cells, thereby avoiding the collateral toxicity that occurs when antiviral drugs are taken up by uninfected cells.
They targeted all of the antiviral drugs they developed specifically to virus-infected cells.
That way, they treated the diseased cells without harming healthy cells.
They used this capability to deliver immune-activating drugs selectively into flu-infected cells. There is also the potential that this therapy will prove efficacious in people infected with COVID-19.
The flu virus, like many other pathogenic viruses, exports its proteins into its host cell surface and then buds off nascent viruses in the process of spreading to adjacent host cells.
The researchers chose to start our tests with the influenza virus because the results can often be applied to other enveloped viruses.
The lab tested to show that the process works in influenza-infected mice that are inoculated with 100 times the lethal dose of virus.
The team says the new therapy may prove effective against other pathogenic virus infections such as hepatitis B, HIV, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
One author of the study is Philip S. Low, the Purdue Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.
The study is published in Nature Communications.
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