A novel target for killing the influenza A virus is presented in Nature Biotechnology this week. The discovery of this target ― a viral protein called nucleoprotein and of a drug that can inhibit it may lead to the development of therapies for influenza infection.
Because new strains of influenza A virus continue to emerge, some of which may be resistant to current drugs, it is necessary to continue to develop new antiviral therapeutics and strategies. By screening a large library of small molecules, Richard Y Kao and colleagues found that a small molecule called nucleozin can suppress influenza A viral replication in both cell lines and mice. Nucleozin targets the viral protein nucleoprotein. Since the influenza A genome encodes only 11 proteins, the finding that nucleoprotein is druggable may represent a significant addition to the targets available to drug developers. The scientists believe that similar screens may uncover further targets.