Belinda Z. Burgos, Marcela Moreno
Latin Agency for Medicine News and Public Health
The influenza virus tends to mutate a lot and the emerging drugs are not enough for a resistant pathogen, causing respiratory virus-related comorbid.
For this reason, there is a group of researchers in Puerto Rico, which includes Dr. Iris Salgado, an assistant professor at Central Caribbean University (UCC), has focused on developing drugs that can prevent duplication of the virus.
The drugs that existed until 2018 were tested by measuring the HA protein that is hemagglutinin and another group of drugs that block the quality of the virus, such as neuraminidasa (NA), an enzyme present in the influenza virus capsid envelope. However, it was discovered that the virus is becoming drug resistant to the point that these drugs are no longer in use, the researcher reported in an interview with Medicine and Public Health (MSP).
Oseltamivir, a selective antiviral prodrug against the flu virus, then emerged, but cases of patients resistant to it are beginning to be seen. Tamiflu, a drug containing oseltamivir, and belonging to a group of drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, he added.
For 2018 another recognized drug was Baloxavir, which acts on PAP (a virus-stabilizing enzyme) and this drug arises in response to attacks of influenza outbreaks with action not seen 10 years ago, but now In 2019, cases of patients resistant to this drug were yet known, he continued.
Taking these precedents into account, the research focused on the search for consistent proteins, such as polymerase, the protein that allows virus replication and has shown the interaction between the PA and P1 protein units, which interact and causes the virus to replicate.
In this way, the team began designing drugs in computer systems evaluating the “relationship between protein structure and activity”, and it was possible to determine the complete interaction, producing molecules that could interfere in this viral relationship.
For 2017 they began the first pilot phase of “In Vitro”, finally selecting a total of 5 drugs from a group of more than 100. Later they were mixed with cells, seeing how it was possible suppress the virus concentration at very low doses and notice a decrease in virus proteins in 24 hours and in pathogen activity in just 32 hours.
Of this group of five drugs, two very effective and low-cost poisons to prevent the virus stand out, which will become patentable in the coming months.
“What follows is to complete the whole pharmacological profile, to decide when to add the drug, which is very important in the flu virus, because we know for example that the drug Tamiflu if you give it to the patient after 3 days it may have no effect “the scientist explained.
In order to progress to the experimental or future testing phase in patients, its efficacy, for example, must be shown to be superior to the drug Tamiflu, in order to demonstrate greater efficacy. The therapeutic index of toxicity should also be evaluated to prevent adverse effects and to check that drugs can prevent a broad spectrum of influenza viruses.
He also stressed that what is expected is, “can be effective in cases of H1 and N1, H3, N2 or H5 and N8 which, although not yet seen in some patient, may arise later and be effective at any stage of the virus “, showing these as variants of the flu virus.
Three types have been seen in the population so far, therefore, an effective drug that does not allow virus resistance to develop, without causing effects in patients, is needed to be safe for everyone, including pregnant women.
The proposal is expected to be submitted in January and the protein-protein interaction can be patented for later characterization and transport to the clinic.
The expert hopes to be able to establish a drug that can overcome the barriers posed by this virus and be able to cover anti-spectrum, highlighting the importance of not having to wait for a pandemic to start creating the drug, but instead thing already exists.
According to week 47 epidemiological, in Puerto Rico 260 cases of flu have been reported, according to content in the Department of Health Surveillance System. Doctors have warned of the similarity of this disease with COVID19, which is why they have encouraged the population to be vaccinated.