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Existing anti-obesity drugs may be effective against flu, hepatitis and HIV
Date:9/28/2008

Viruses dramatically increase cellular metabolism, and existing anti-obesity drugs may represent a new way to block these metabolic changes and inhibit viral infection, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Metabolism refers to all the reactions by which living things break down nutrients to produce energy, along with those by which they rebuild broken-down nutrients into complex molecules (e.g. DNA). A significant example is the breakdown of blood sugar (e.g. glucose) and its conversation via chain reactions into adenosine triphosphate, the energy-storing currency of cellular life. As an important offshoot of that process, glucose can also be converted into fatty acids, the lipid building blocks of human hormones and cell membranes. Many viruses, including influenza, HIV and hepatitis, use those same fatty acids to build instead their viral envelopes, outer coatings that help them penetrate human cells. Going into the study, little was known about the mechanisms through which viruses hijack metabolic building blocks from their cellular hosts, with older techniques providing a limited picture.

In the current study, a team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Princeton University created a new technique to clarify these mechanisms, and found that the technique could identify anti-viral therapeutic targets. Researchers combined drug discovery technologies to capture for the first time the exact concentrations and turnover, in other words, the fluxes, of interchangeable molecules within the metabolic chain reactions that convert sugars into fatty acids. The fields of metabolomics and fluxomics have emerged to measure these patterns, and to provide insight into diseases with a metabolic component, from diabetes to infectious diseases to cancer.

"Using new fluxomic techniques, our study reveals that viral infection takes control of cellular metabolism and drives
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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