June 19, 2019
At present there is no antiviral medication that can treat the common cold, an illness caused by rhinovirus, which is part of the virus family picornavirus. Because viruses in this family mutate frequently it has been difficult to create a treatment that can stop them in their tracks.
When we become infected by a virus, the virus injects its genetic material into the cells, which effectively hijacks the machinery within the cell to produce more copies of the virus. Previous research has shown that inside picornaviruses there is a shell of protein that protects the genetic material, and that this shell changes shape right before the virus injects its genetic material into a cell during an infection.
A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki, and the University of Leuven have now discovered a chink in the armor of this protein shell; a small pocket. They were able to identify a chemical compound that binds to this pocket, effectively locking the protein shell in shape, preventing the virus from infecting cells. The team is now working to create drugs that will exploit this weakness in picornaviruses.
Source: Science News
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