People fear diseases such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever, rabies and HIV for good reason; they have high mortality rates and few, if any, possible treatments. As many as 90 percent of people who contract Ebola, for instance, die of the disease.
Facing this gaping need for therapies, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine teamed with colleagues to focus on identifying and developing compounds that could reduce a virus' ability to spread infection. In two studies published in the Journal of Virology, the researchers have identified several prototypic compounds with the potential to one day serve as broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs.
Ronald N. Harty, an associate professor of microbiology at Penn Vet and senior author on both studies, collaborated with Penn Vet's Jianhong Lu, Ziying Han, Yuliang Liu, Wenbo Liu, Gordon Ruthel and Bruce D. Freedman and two U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease scientists, Michael S. Lee and Mark A. Olson, on both studies. On the second paper, the team was expanded to include Benjamin Davis and Matthias J. Schnell of Thomas Jefferson University and Jay E. Wrobel and Allen B. Reitz of Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center.
Viruses, which cannot reproduce on their own, hijack host cell proteins and machinery in order to replicate. After doing so, many viruses exit the cell in a process called "budding" in order to infect other cells and spread.
"What happens is the virus actually hijacks or recruits different host proteins and host functions and makes use of those proteins to efficiently get out of the cell," Harty said.
In the two new papers, Harty and colleagues zeroed in on this step in the budding process, attempting to block it and reduce the infection to a level a person's immune system would be able to control more easily.
In the first paper, the researchers examined the interaction between the viral protein seq
|Contact: Katherine Unger Baillie|
University of Pennsylvania