Influenza virus propagation curbed

Drugs that inhibit a key signalling pathway in the human cell can halt the propagation of the influenza A virus.

By | February 16, 2001

In the March issue of Nature Cell Biology, Stephan Ludwig and colleagues of the Julius-Maximilians University in Würzberg, Germany, report that inhibitors of the MAP kinase signalling pathway interfere with the propagation of the influenza A virus (Nat Cell Biol 2001, 3:301-305).

The team discovered that following infection the virus activates the MAP kinase signalling pathway of the host cell. When cells were treated with the drug U0126, a specific inhibitor of MAP kinase, the virus was still able to reproduce itself but the newly synthesised viral particles were retained in the nucleus of the host cell, preventing further viral replication.

MAP kinases are important for a number of normal cellular processes such as growth and proliferation. So before MAP kinase inhibitors can be used as anti-flu drugs, methods to target the drugs to virally infected cells must be found if unwanted side-effects are to be avoided.

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