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From blank round to a potently active substance?
Date:4/19/2013

A long-forgotten candidate for antiviral therapy is undergoing a renaissance: Since the 1970s, the small molecule CMA has been considered a potent agent against viral infections, yet it was never approved for clinical use. Scientists at the Bonn University Hospital have now deciphered how the molecule can actually stimulate the immune system to combat viruses. The results are now being presented in the journal "EMBO" of the European Molecular Biology Organization.

Finding an active substance to stimulate the immune system and thus better combat dangerous viruses has been the dream of medical researchers for some time. Common viral diseases include influenza, hepatitis and AIDS. "A number of products have promised to activate the immune system but, in reality, there still is no such agent yet," says Prof. Dr. Veit Hornung from the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology of the Bonn University Hospital. The only substances that have been on the market to date prevent the proliferation of specific viruses, themselves. An active substance that could arm the immune system against a variety of viruses has not yet been discovered.

The compound CMA was only effective in mice and not in humans

At the end of the 1970s, scientists were nearing a breakthrough: 10-carboxymethyl-9-acridanone (CMA) appeared to be a suitable candidate for antiviral therapy. In the mouse model, CMA yielded unexpectedly potent activation of the immune system and a significant release of interferon resulting in an extremely strong antiviral effect. However, the result was unfortunately not reproducible in human cells. Why CMA stimulates the antiviral response in mice while showing no effect in humans has remained unexplained for quite sometime. That is until Prof. Hornung coincidentally saw an old publication regarding CMA and decided it was worthwhile to reexplore the mechanism of action of this molecule.

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Contact: Dr. Veit Hornung
veit.hornung@uni-bonn.de
49-228-287-51200
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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