As the specter of a worldwide outbreak of avian or "bird flu" lingers, health officials recognize that new drugs are desperately needed since some strains of the virus already have developed resistance to the current roster of anti-flu remedies.
Now, a team of UC San Diego scientists - with the help of resources at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), also at UC San Diego - have isolated more than two dozen promising and novel compounds from which new "designer drugs" might be developed to combat this disease. In some cases, the compounds appeared to be equal or stronger inhibitors than currently available anti-flu remedies.
"If those resistant strains begin to propagate, then that's when we're going to be in trouble, because we don't have any anti-virals active against them," said Rommie Amaro, a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry at UC San Diego. "So, we should have something as a backup, and that's exactly why we're working on this."
Avian flu has provoked considerable concern since humans have little or no immune protection against the virus. While flu vaccines are being developed, it could take up to nine months for an effective vaccine to be developed against any new strains, and could still be rendered ineffective if any new strains arise over that time. Should the virus gain the capacity to spread from person to person, the result could be a worldwide outbreak or pandemic.
"In light of the urgency to find drugs to combat this virus, we're hopeful that our results will assist in that effort," said J. Andrew McCammon, holder of the Joseph Mayer Chair of Theoretical Chemistry at UC San Diego and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Also participating in this study were researchers from the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR), part of the Center for Research on Biological Systems and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego, includi
|Contact: Warren R. Froelich|
University of California - San Diego