Vaccines can prevent the flu, but treating it after you get sick relies on drugs that are becoming less effective as strains of the influenza virus evolve. University of Chicago scientists have published computational results that may give drug designers the insight they need to develop the next generation of effective influenza treatment.
Gregory Voth, PhD, professor of chemistry, and his team conducted a series of computer simulations of a key process in the replication of the influenza A virus. The simulations, conducted in part on the Midway high-performance computing cluster at the University’s Research Computing Center, unlocked a better understanding of how protons flow through the M2 channel, one of the few proteins that are targets for antiviral therapies. As different strains of the flu evolve, the M2 protein changes, limiting the ability of current drugs like Amantadine to target it. These new models of how the virus replicates could lead to new, more effective, drug targets.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition last week. Read more about Voth’s work at the UChicago News site.
Liang R., J. M. J. Swanson & G. A. Voth (2014). Multiscale simulation reveals a multifaceted mechanism of proton permeation through the influenza A M2 proton channel, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1401997111