Journal: Cell Host & Microbe
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Influenza ingress points to a new antiviral strategy
© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty
A decades-old blood-pressure drug could be repurposed to fight severe flu infections.
It has long been known that the influenza A virus binds to a sugar tag found on the outside of host cells to gain entry inside. Recent research has also shown that these sugar tags affect the activity of calcium channels involved in transmitting electrical signals and that viral invasion alters calcium dynamics into and out of cells.
A Hokkaido University–led team connected these disjointed observations by identifying the specific sugar-adorned calcium channel through which flu infection happens.
They inhibited viral entry in mice both by genetic knockdown of this protein and by administering a calcium-channel blocker, which has been used for over 30 years to treat hypertension and angina.
Clinicians in France are now evaluating this drug, called diltiazem, as a potential anti-infectious treatment for patients hospitalized with the flu.
- Cell Host & Microbe 23, 809–818.e5 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.04.015