HK researchers discover new drug to treat flu

The University of Hong Kong Monday announced that their researchers have found that an important viral structural protein, influenza nucleoprotein, can be used as a target to kill influenza virus including H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1.

According to the university, influenza nucleoprotein is an important influenza virus protein that has many important functions, from leading the viral genome into the cell nucleus, assisting viral transcription and genome replication, to facilitating viral genome assembly.

Using forward chemical genetics, the university"e;s research team has identified and validated influenza A nucleoprotein as a new druggable target and found a small chemical compound, nuclein, which can aggregate the nucleoprotein and stop its transport into the nucleus.

This nullifies the functions of nucleoprotein and makes nuclein highly potent in cell culture and also in mice infected with the highly pathogenic influenza virus H5N1. Therefore, nuclein can be further developed into drugs to treat influenza.

The research results have been published in the latest issue of an international monthly journal, Nature Biotechnology.