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Putting a bull's-eye on the flu: Paper details influenza's structure for future drug targeting
Date:10/21/2010

to map the protein's structure by giving it the equivalent of an MRI scan. The detailed images allowed the research groups of Cross and Zhou to chart the tiniest, previously unknown aspects of the protein's atomic structure.

"Now that we have a much more refined view of M2 going all the way down to the atomic level, the level that includes protons going through the channel we can draw conclusions about how to block it," said David Busath, a biophysicist at Brigham Young University and a co-author of the Science paper.

Busath and his team have already begun screening millions of compounds, looking for drugs that will bind to the channel and block its reproductive role.

And FSU "has been awarded two patents for drug screening," Cross said. "We'll continue to use the 900-megahertz magnet for these drug-screening activities."

As to why the longtime flu drugs have become ineffective, the massive misuse of amantadine in poultry may have played a role, Cross said.

In the West, amantadine can only be given to humans. But starting in 2005, the Chinese began feeding it to chickens and other poultry to prevent them from getting avian flu. In all, China administered 2.6 billion doses of amantadine to its domestic birds.

"It's terrible to utilize these miracle drugs that can save thousands, if not millions, of lives and dramatically reduce hospitalizations in that fashion," Cross said.


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Contact: Timothy A. Cross
cross@magnet.fsu.edu
850-644-0917
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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