Influenza Viruses: Basic Biology and Potential Drug Targets
Christopher F. Basler
Affiliation: Dept. Microbiology,Box 1124, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029.
Keywords: Amantadine, influenza virus, ion channel, neuraminidase, neuraminidase inhibitor, pandemic, pathogenesis, rimantadine
Influenza A and influenza B viruses are continuing causes of morbidity and mortality on an annual basis. Influenza A viruses have historically caused periodic pandemics in the human population, sometimes with devastating consequences, such as in 1918. Fears of a new pandemic have increased in recent years because of continuing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses in birds with occasional, but often lethal infection of humans. Despite their importance as human pathogens, the antiviral drugs approved to treat influenza virus infections are currently limited to two targets, the viral neuraminidase and the viral ion channel, M2. The use of the M2 inhibitors amantadine and rimantadine is further limited by the propensity of these drugs to select for drug resistant variants. However, the replication cycle of influenza viruses has been intensively studied and is receiving increased attention. New opportunities exist to develop novel antiviral strategies targeting these viruses.
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