Jessie and I have been writing recently about drug resistant strains of influenza A, a very scary phenomenon considering our expectation of a serious pandemic. Penn researchers might have found another target in the influenza virus- so we're saved (not really, you should still be scared).
In a normal influenza A virus, amantadine works by blocking the M2 surface protein. Essentially, amantidine acts like a cork, preventing the flow of protons into the virus, which is necessary for infection. However, new mutations in the M2 protein are changing its shape so that amantadine does not fully block the flow of protons, and the virus is still infectious.
The Penn researchers have discovered a new channel next to the amantadine pocket which is conserved in all influenza A viruses. This might be another avenue for antiviral medications, but no research in the development of such medications, or their efficacy have been conducted.
The article can be found at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/uops-prd013008.php.