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Biology, Target Search and Drug Discovery

Combating Influenza Using a Novel Drug Strategy

EC contribution
: € 1.498.396
: 24 months
Starting date
: 01/03/2008
Funding scheme
: Collaborative project - Small- or medium-scale focused research project
: drug discovery, maturation inhibitors, Influenza A virus, image analysis
Contract/Grant agreement number
: FP7 202033
Project web-site
: -


During the last century three Influenza pandemics occurred and the threat of a new Influenza pandemic has become imminent. A new pandemic would indicate that the Influenza virus would have undergone major changes such as antigenic reassortment. Current treatments are unlikely to be effective and new vaccines and antiviral agents will be essential to combat such an outbreak.

The FluDrugStrategy approach is to develop a new class of antiviral drug candidates. The target protein is highly conserved among human strains of the virus as well as strains infecting other species, including birds. This would indicate that its rate of mutation is considerably lower than those of the surface proteins (i.e., hemagglutinin, neuraminidase and the M2 ion channel) upon which the currently available antiviral drugs act. Another feature of the target that makes it highly interesting and very promising in this context is its involvement in a variety of important viral and cellular processes. The FluDrugStrategy project will design and synthesize molecules that either inhibit or, conversely, stabilize protein-protein interactions, so that either the formation of virus particles is prevented or release of the viral genetic material does not occur.

The project combines knowledge-based design and synthesis of compounds with unique patented image analysis and mathematical algorithm software to find and develop these new types of potential antiviral molecules. The methodology allows for rapid discovery of lead molecules. Key molecules with optimal binding kinetics to the target protein will be designed and synthesized then analysed and tested in two separate experimental systems for their effect upon the virus structure and maturation process.

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