Background: Influenza viruses cause severe upper respiratory illness in children and the elderly during seasonal epidemics. Influenza viruses from zoonotic reservoirs can also cause pandemics with significant loss of life in all age groups. Although vaccination is one of the most effective methods to protect against seasonal epidemics, seasonal vaccines vary in efficacy, can be ineffective in the elderly population, and do not provide protection against novel strains. Small molecule therapeutics are a critical part of our antiviral strategies to control influenza virus epidemics and pandemics as well as to ameliorate disease in elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
Objective: This review aims to summarize the existing antiviral strategies for combating influenza viruses, the mechanisms of antiviral resistance for available drugs, and novel therapeutics currently in development.
Methods: We systematically evaluated and synthesized the published scientific literature for mechanistic detail into therapeutic strategies against influenza viruses.
Results: Current IAV strains have developed resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors and nearly complete resistance to M2 ion channel inhibitors, exacerbated by sub-therapeutic dosing used for treatment and chemoprophylaxis. New tactics include novel therapeutics targeting host components and combination therapy, which show potential for fighting influenza virus disease while minimizing viral resistance.
Conclusion: Antiviral drugs are crucial for controlling influenza virus disease burden, but their efficacy is limited by human misuse and the capacity of influenza viruses to circumvent antiviral barriers. To relieve the public health hardship of influenza virus, emerging therapies must be selected for their capacity to impede not only influenza virus disease, but also the development of antiviral resistance.