Chemistry 2011.org
Chemistry2011.org
All About Chemistry... 2011 and beyond

Related Stories

Maglab Research Paves Way for Flu Treatments

Released: 2-Nov-2015 9:05 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Florida State University
Add to Favorites
Contact Information

Available for logged-in reporters only

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kathleen Haughney, University Communications
(850) 644-1489; khaughney@fsu.edu
@FSUResearch

Nov. 2, 2015

MAGLAB RESEARCH PAVES WAY FOR FLU TREATMENTS

Nov. 3, 2015 - TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — New research by a Florida State University chemistry professor uses some of the world’s most powerful magnets to put a bullseye on the flu virus.

Led by Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry Tim Cross and his team at the Florida State University-based National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, scientists delved into the complexities of exactly how the flu virus works and why it’s so effective at making people so sick. With a better understanding of how it works, researchers will now be able to turn their attention to creating more effective prescription drugs to fight the flu.

Cross and his team were able to detail the mechanism that activates the flu virus permitting it to reproduce in a human cell. They laid out their findings in the academic journal Structure.

“If we can get a drug that disrupts this mechanism, that would be huge,” Cross said. “We really don’t know when a deadly flu epidemic is going to hit next. We need backup to vaccines.”

But to create those drugs, scientists needed to first understand how the virus functions on its most basic level.

The influenza virus is what’s known as an enveloped virus, meaning it has a membrane coat, similar to the way a cell has a membrane. In that membrane are three different proteins, one of which is called the M2 proton channel.

As the virus moves into a cell, it enters an acidic environment, which activates the M2 proton channel. Once the M2 proton channel is activated, protons move through the channel and compel the membrane coat to fuse to the host membrane, causing infection and ultimately, reproduction of the virus.

Using the National MagLab’s most sensitive nuclear magnetic resonance magnet — essentially a super powered MRI — scientists were able to get a clear image of the channel and how protons moved through it causing the fusion of the virus with the host membranes.

“We can actually see the protons move,” Cross said. “Nobody thought we would be able to do this.”

For years, scientists worldwide have been fixated on how this channel works because it provides the basic clues to understanding how viral infection works. The M2 channel has long been a target of drug developers, but when the swine flu broke out in 2009, doctors quickly discovered that drugs that had been in use for decades suddenly didn’t work.

“The drugs didn’t work anymore,” Cross said. “As in so many cases, the virus had evolved. So, there’s a lot of interest in studying this protein and seeing if we can develop a new antibiotic.”

Cross’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

The paper’s co-authors are Professor of Physics Huan-Xiang Zhou, MagLab scientist Riqiang Fu and former FSU graduate student Yimin Miao.

Promote your organization’s experts with Expert Pitch.

Comment/Share


Share this story with your friends!

Social Networking

Please recommend us on Facebook, Twitter and more:

Other social media tools

Global Partners
Feedback

Tell us what you think of Chemistry 2011 -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?

About us

Chemistry2011 is an informational resource for students, educators and the self-taught in the field of chemistry. We offer resources such as course materials, chemistry department listings, activities, events, projects and more along with current news releases.

Events & Activities

Are you interested in listing an event or sharing an activity or idea? Perhaps you are coordinating an event and are in need of additional resources? Within our site you will find a variety of activities and projects your peers have previously submitted or which have been freely shared through creative commons licenses. Here are some highlights: Featured Idea 1, Featured Idea 2.

About you

Ready to get involved? The first step is to sign up by following the link: Join Here. Also don’t forget to fill out your profile including any professional designations.

Global Partners