Development of potential therapeutics for influenza via sialidase inactivators

Influenza is a severe infection of the upper respiratory tract that occurs each year, affecting approximately 20 per cent of the world’s population. Although vaccination is the primary prevention strategy, a number of scenarios exist for which vaccination is insufficient and for which the development of new antiviral agents would be extremely important. Two classes of drugs are available for controlling the spread of influenza. Amatidines work by blocking the ion channel function of the viral M2 protein. However, these drugs are only effective against influenza A virus and have substantial side effects. The other class of therapeutics, sialidase inhibitors, includes enzyme inhibitors Relenza and Tamiflu. However, influenza viruses are developing resistance to both inhibitors. One solution to the problem of viruses becoming resistant is to use several drugs at once (a drug cocktail), making it more difficult for the virus to develop resistance to all of them. Another solution, which could be used in concert, is to design new inhibitors that are less likely to induce viruses to mutate and develop resistance. This is the goal of Dr. Jin Hyo Kim’s research.