Protein Attacks The Flu
Scientists have discovered a way to make normally non-flu-binding proteins found in nature into broad-spectrum antiviral agents.The proteins are even effective against the H1N1 pandemic influenza.
These proteins hone in on a site on the virus and lock into it, prohibiting the virus from changing shape, which it does when infecting living cells.
"One of these engineered proteins has a flu-fighting potency that rivals that of several human monoclonal antibodies," said Dr. David Baker, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington.
Like Us on Facebook
The proteins are being developed by computer models that map out microscopic surface details of the virus.
Flu strains are named with an H or an N based on which molecules the flu uses to enter the respiratory passage, with H standing for hemagglutinin. When the virus attaches to a cell, it makes the cell engulf it. The cell, however, takes the virus to a more acidic environment, where the hemagglutinin changes shape and allow the virus's RNA to inflitrate the cell to begin replication.
Baker's protein attaches to all strains of viruses with Group 1 Hemagglutinin, which includes H1, the pandemic H2, and the avian H3 strains.
Dr. David Baker leads the Institute of Protein Design Center at the University of Washington. The center explores new protein structures that could be used in a variety of biological and mechanical applications.