Scientists find potential Achilles heel in flu virus

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Texas in Austin say that they've found a weakness in the flu virus--both common flu viruses as well as bird flu--that could be a very effective target for new antiviral drugs. The target is the nucleoprotein, the flexible tail loop of the flu protein, often referred to as NP in shorthand. Any changes in the tail prevent the NPs from stacking together, a process that's necessary before cells begin to create the virus. A new antiviral that prevents the nucleoproteins from binding together could be a very effective method for preventing seasonal flu and ultimately guarding against a pandemic. Lead researcher Jane Tao says she is now studying thousands of compounds to see which is most likely to influence the NP.

- check out the press release on the finding
- here's the report on the research from The Houston Chronicle

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