Scientists identify promising antiviral compounds

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Posted July 3, 2013
Brookhaven biophysicist Walter Mangel

Brookhaven biophysicist Walter Mangel

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified two promising candidates for the development of drugs against human adenovirus, a cause of ailments ranging from colds to gastrointestinal disorders to pink eye. A paper published in FEBS Letters, a journal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, describes how the researchers sifted through thousands of compounds to determine which might block the effects of a key viral enzyme they had previously studied in atomic-level detail.

“This research is a great example of the potential for rational drug design,” said lead author Walter Mangel, a biologist at Brookhaven Lab. “Based on studies of the atomic-level structure of an enzyme that’s essential for the maturation of adenovirus and how that enzyme becomes active-conducted at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS)-we used computational modeling to search for compounds that might interfere with this enzyme and tested the best candidates in the lab.”

Out of 140,000 compounds in a national database, the scientists identified two they expect to be able to turn into antiviral agents to combat adenovirus.

The need for such antiviral compounds stems from the diversity of human adenoviruses and their ubiquitous effects, Mangel said. Adenoviruses cause many types of respiratory diseases (including outbreaks among military recruits), childhood pneumonias, and eye infections-and may even play a role in obesity. They are particularly dangerous for individuals with impaired immunity, such as transplant recipients and patients with AIDS.

Read more at: Phys.org



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