Thursday, February 12, 2015
Keeping Enterovirus in its Pocket
Recent research out of Purdue University helps shine light on a particular viral mechanism that has the ability to serve as the basis for future anti-viral therapy. The research, conducted by the Rossmann lab, identified the structure of a “pocket compound” in Enterovirus D68.
This “pocket compound” is a small molecule on the surface of the outer viron capsid, or shell, which acts a sort of lock. When EV-D68 attached to a human cell, this little molecule is released or pushed away which allows the virus to ditch it’s coating and be taken up by the cell for further replication.
Researchers also identified a drug called Pleconaril which was also able to bind to this same pocket. It competed with the natural “pocket factor” for the spot on the virus and, when bound, inhibited the viral un-coating, and thus infection.
The main idea is to use this new drug as a possible anti-viral agent against the recently seen uptick in pediatric EV-D68 infection. However, the drug, as it currently stands does not react with the pocket structures of the currently circulating strains—although it does react with the originally tested lab version. Scientists hope to tweak the chemical structure to make it applicable to the current clinical need.