A new antiviral drug that causes mutations in the genetic material of the influenza virus is very effective in treating influenza infections in animals and human respiratory tract tissue and could be a revolutionary breakthrough in flu therapy, said in a study by the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, MedicalXpress reported.
An antiviral drug blocks RNA polymerase, an enzyme that plays a central role in the replication of the influenza virus genome, causing mutations in the viral genome. If enough mutations occur, the genome becomes non-functional and the virus cannot multiply.
The compound is very effective against influenza, said Dr. Richard Plemper, author of the study and professor at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.
Influenza caused by an infectious respiratory virus is characterized by fever, cough, headache, pain in the muscles and joints, severe malaise, sore throat, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms. High-risk patients, such as the elderly and people with impaired immune systems, often require hospitalization. Seasonal flu causes the deaths of between 30,000 and 80,000 people in the US each year. The seasonal flu vaccine is only moderately effective, and licensed antiviral drugs are at risk because of the rapidly emerging viral drug resistance.
During the study, a new antiviral drug was tested on ferrets. Researchers have found that an antiviral drug effectively inhibits the replication of all these strains. After treatment, the viral load decreased rapidly, and the treated ferrets had a much shorter duration of fever than animals that did not receive the drug.
We have not yet identified specific resistance mutations and are confident that the genetic barrier against viral resistance is high, said Plemper adding that they believe that this compound has high clinical potential as a cure for the next generation of influenza, which combines the key antiviral properties.