Harnessing anticancer drugs for the future fight against influenza

September 5, 2012
In search for novel antivirals, a total of 201 host-directed compounds were tested for their antiviral efficacy. Credit: FIMM / Oxana Denisova

Medical Systems Virology group at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki, together with its national and international collaborators, developed a new cell screening method that can be used to identify potential anti-influenza drugs. The researchers were able to identify two novel compounds with anti-influenza activity, obatoclax and gemcitabine and prove the efficacy of a previously known drug saliphenylhalamide.

The study was recently accepted for publication in the and is now available online.

Influenza viruses cause significant human morbidity and mortality. To treat the infections, different virus-directed drugs have been developed. However, the currently available drugs are targeting and due to a high the influenza viruses quickly develop resistance to them. For that reason, next-generation antiviral drugs should be directed towards the host functions. The results of this study provide a foundation for development of next-generation antiviral drugs. Furthermore, these identified compounds can be used as chemical tools when studying the molecular mechanisms of virus-host interactions.

"An interesting aspect of this study is that the antiviral effects of obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide and gemcitabine, which all are either investigational or approved anticancer agents, are achieved at much lower concentrations than that needed to mediate cancer cell death" said the group leader Denis Kainov.

However, further research is still needed before these drugs can be clinically tested and applied in influenza infections.

This research project is a good example of repurposing of drugs, i.e. finding new applications for existing drugs and thus saving money and time on drug development.

"We anticipate that these types of drugs could in the future reinforce the therapeutic arsenal and address the needs of the society to control ", said Olli Kallioniemi, the Director of FIMM.

Explore further: Study suggests some drug resistance to influenza B medications

More information: Denisova OV, Kakkola L, Feng L, Stenman J, Nagaraj A, Lampe J, Yadav B, Aittokallio T, Kaukinen P, Ahola T, Kuivanen S, Vapalahti O, Kantele A, Tynell J, Julkunen I, Kallio-Kokko H, Paavilainen H, Hukkanen V, Elliott RM, De Brabander JK, Saelens X and Kainov DE. Obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide and gemcitabine inhibit influenza A virus infection. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012 (online, doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.392142)

Related Stories

Fighting drug-resistant flu viruses

July 15, 2009

Amid reports that swine flu viruses are developing the ability to shrug off existing antiviral drugs, scientists in Japan are reporting a first-of-its kind discovery that could foster a new genre of antivirals that sidestep ...

Study offers new information for flu fight

January 27, 2012

Influenza virus can rapidly evolve from one form to another, complicating the effectiveness of vaccines and anti-viral drugs used to treat it. By first understanding the complex host cell pathways that the flu uses for replication, ...

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Water heals a bioplastic

September 1, 2015

A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.