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New vulnerability found in major human viruses

Picornaviruses, including rhinoviruses such as the common cold and enteroviruses such as meningitis, have thus far been untreatable with antiviral agents. That may soon be about to change.

Researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium and the University of Helsinki have found a compound that stabilised a model picornavirus, preventing it from changing its shape and therefore interacting with host cells, effectively preventing viral replication.

While performing cryo-electron microscopy to determine how the drug had achieved this, the researchers found that the compound had lodged in a previously undiscovered indentation in the surface of the virus. As this feature is common across the entire picornavirus family, the same approach can likely be taken to develop antivirals across a broad range of the viruses.

Due to the mechanism by which the compound takes effect, the researchers are also hopeful that the targeted viruses will not be able to mutate in order to be resistant while maintaining the ability to replicate.

The results of the study have been published in PLOS biology.

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Source: Science Daily