New therapy for influenza, HIV can also treat Covid: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

According to researchers at Purdue University, a new therapy for influenza virus infections can also be effective against other pathogenic virus infections, including HIV and Covid-19.

On average, over two million people in the United States get hospitalised due to influenza, and 30,000 to 80,000 of them die from the flu or related complications.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications, and uses a targeted therapy approach against virus infections.

“We target all of the antiviral drugs we develop specifically to virus-infected cells,” said Philip SLow, the Purdue Ralph CCorley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

He added: “That way, we treat the diseased cells without harming healthy cells. We use this capability to deliver immune-activating drugs selectively into flu-infected cells. There is also the potential that this therapy will prove efficacious in people infected with Covid-19.”

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The authors stated that the flu virus, like other pathogens, exports its proteins into its host cell surface and then buds off new viruses in the process of spreading to adjacent host cells.

Hence, the team exploited the presence of viral proteins in infected cells by designing homing molecules that target drugs specifically to virus-infected cells. This helped them avoid the collateral toxicity that occurs when antiviral drugs are taken up by uninfected cells.

“We chose to start our tests with influenza virus because the results can often be applied to other enveloped viruses. Our lab tests show that our process works in influenza-infected mice that are inoculated with 100 times the lethal dose of virus,” Low added.

Low said the new therapy may prove effective against other pathogenic virus infections such as hepatitis B, HIV, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

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Published on November 24, 2020
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