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Study Finds Potential Approach to Treat Virus Causing Respiratory Illness

A new research found that a class of compounds could be effective in combating infections caused by enterovirus D68, which has stricken children with serious respiratory and neurological infections.

As per the study, Enterovirus D68 is also occasionally associated with infections characterised by symptoms including muscle weakness and paralysis. The researchers have used a technique called X-ray crystallography to learn the precise structure of the original strain of EV-D68 on its own and when bound to an anti-viral compound called “pleconaril.”

Michael G. Rossmann, Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, said that the ongoing research could lead to the development of drugs that inhibit infections caused by the most recent strains of the virus.

Although EV-D68 has emerged as a considerable global public health threat, there is no available vaccine or effective anti-viral treatment.

A molecule called a “pocket factor” is located within a pocket of the virus’s protective shell, called the capsid. When the virus binds to a human cell, the pocket factor is squeezed out of its pocket resulting in the destabilization of the virus particle, which then disintegrates and releases its genetic material to infect the cell and to replicate itself.

The antiviral compound pleconaril also binds into the pocket, inhibiting infection. Rossmann said, “The compound and the normal pocket factor compete with each other for binding into the pocket.

Adding, he said, “They are both hydrophobic, and they both like to get away from water by going into the pocket. But which of these is going to win depends on the pocket itself, the pocket factor and properties of the antiviral compound.”


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