Researchers say in a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that they discovered new information about how influenza viruses infect humans, which could lead to new and more effective flu medicines .
Using the protein called CD151, the research team has shown that influenza viruses can occupy a unique class of proteins in the respiratory body system of the body. Viruses are cloned and proliferated in the body before they invade and colonize new cells, and they are further multiplied into the bodies of infected individuals.
According to the World Health Organization, influenza affects about one billion people a year, and the virus severely affects three to five million of these people. About 650,000 people die of influenza each year.
The new discovery may bring medical science a step closer to developing a powerful vaccination and treatment regimen that can work against a wide range of influenza virus strains and whose efficacy and potency will overwhelm the resistance of the virus to all the seasons of the flu.
Currently, because influenza virus often changes its external overlap, vaccine developments are based on predicting key proteins outside the influenza virus in advance and preventing these proteins from binding to host cells. However, such strategies to find “more vaccine fit better” for a specific flu season have obvious limitations as the virus can often change every few months.
Alternative treatment strategies such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) are effective only when they are prescribed early in the infection as they function by inhibiting viral replication, but the flu virus can become resistant to the abuse of these agents. This is why researchers used an approach that shifted the focus from the virus to the host, enabling them to discover the elements that are critical to the life cycle of the virus.
With this new approach, they discovered that the virus threatens a protein in the nucleus of the respiratory host cells called CD151 and uses it to reproduce. The production of new genetic material to form the core of the new virus particles is an essential step in the replication of the virus.
In this case, the influenza virus uses the infected CD151 to extract new genetic material from the nucleus to form new viruses for further transmission and infection.
Using both human cells and preclinical influenza models, researchers have shown that CD151 inhibition slows the formation of new influenza viruses, leaving the host enough time to make the immune response to infection more effective while at the same time not causing too much an immune response , which could cause complications such as asthma or respiratory failure.
“This new signaling pathway is preserved in H1N1 and H3N2 influenza strains, which are the most prevalent subjects in humans, making this finding fascinating, as the development of CD151 blockers to stop the life cycle of the virus would reduce the need for monitoring of circulating viruses every year, “the researchers said in their new study.
“This is a very promising discovery as the current range of drugs available to treat influenza is very limited. If this leads to a new category of drugs that can be used to treat influenza and its complications, it will be a big step forward in efforts not only to treat common (seasonal) influenza but also to prepare for a flu pandemic “.