Researchers identify potential compounds for broad-spectrum antivirals

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine recently identified several prototypic compounds with the potential to one day serve as broad-spectrum antiviral drugs against Ebola and Marburg, among others.

The researchers, who teamed with colleagues to focus on identifying and developing compounds that could reduce the ability of a virus to spread infection, recently published their two studies in the Journal of Virology.

Associate Professor of Microbiology at Penn Vet Ronald Harty, the senior author on both studies, collaborated with Penn Vet's Jianhong Lu, Ziying Han, Yuliang Liu, Wenbo Liu, Gordon Ruthel and Bruce D. Freedman and U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease scientists Micheal S. Lee and Mark A. Olson on both studies.

Benjamin Davis and Matthias J. Schnell of Thomas Jefferson Univeristy and Jay E. Wrabel and Allen B. Reitz of Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center joined the team for the second paper.

The researchers focused on finding a way to block a virus during the "budding" process, when a virus uses a hosts functions and proteins to leave a cell.

Using this model in the first paper, the researchers identified a candidate called compound 0013 that reduced the ability of a virus to bud off from human cells in culture by more than 90 percent. The candidate was similarly effective against Ebola and HIV proteins.

For the second paper, the researchers used a viral protein sequence called PPxY, which is found in the Marburg, Ebola and rabies virus matrix proteins, to effectively inhibit budding of the rabies virus, Marburg virus-like particles and other PPxY containing viruses.

"By slowing down virus budding, we may allow an individuals immune system a chance to develop a robust and a protective response," Harty said.