Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drug Design Expert Sets His Group's Sights On SARS; Biologist To Apply Lessons Learned From HIV Studies To New Outbreak

Date:
May 29, 2003
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
Three days after the genome for the virus that causes SARS was released, biologists at The Johns Hopkins University identified a protein made by the virus that may provide a good target for drug development. Work is currently under way to produce the protein in recombinant form in sufficient amounts for drug design studies to begin.

Three days after the genome for the virus that causes SARS was released, biologists at The Johns Hopkins University identified a protein made by the virus that may provide a good target for drug development. Work is currently under way to produce the protein in recombinant form in sufficient amounts for drug design studies to begin. The researchers found a protease, a protein essential to viral reproduction, encoded in the genome of the SARS virus, one of a class of viruses known as coronaviruses. Proteases usually act as a kind of scissors, cutting viral proteins into their active forms and enabling new viral particles to form and infect other cells. Several existing HIV treatments and other HIV treatments in development work by inhibiting the activity of HIV proteases.

"Not all viral proteases are the same. They have different structures and mechanisms of action," cautions Ernesto Freire, Henry Walters Professor of Biology in the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "It is necessary to characterize very precisely the SARS-associated coronavirus protease to validate its value as a drug development target."

"This basic characterization is necessary because the SARS-associated coronavirus protease belongs to a different family of proteases than the [proteases] from HIV, hepatitis C or herpes viruses, which have been vigorously studied and validated as targets for drug development," Freire notes.

Freire is delighted that he and other scientists are already homing in on potential SARS vulnerabilities a mere six months after the disease first appeared in humans in the Guangdong province of China.

"It's been like a great detective novel, this race to find and stop the culprit behind this new disease," Freire says. "It's amazing how quickly we've made progress, from no one working on it two to three months ago, to having the bug identified and having its genome sequenced. This is the first epidemic of the 21st century, and the response from the public health community and the scientific community has been very good so far."

Freire has been working for several years to improve the way scientists design new drugs to treat HIV and other diseases. He advocates a combination of analytical approaches that, when applied to proteins essential to a pathogen, can reveal precise areas on the proteins that cannot genetically change without killing the microbes or destroying their ability to reproduce. With these areas identified, researchers can work to develop new drugs that bind to the critical areas, making it much more difficult for pathogens to develop resistance to the drugs.

Stephanie Leavitt, a graduate student in Freire's group, identified on May 4 a SARS protease encoded in the SARS genome, which had been compiled by several Canadian laboratories and published on May 1. Freire noted that it hasn't been conclusively shown that the protease Leavitt found is essential to SARS' survival. But scientists have found that inhibiting similar proteases can kill other coronaviruses.

Adrian Velazquez-Campoy, an associate research scientist in Freire's group, is working on the production of the recombinant protease.

Freire's group was recently awarded a supplement to their National Institutes of Health grant to allow them to expand their work with HIV and drug development to SARS. He and his research group will take a closer look at the structural and thermodynamic properties of the protease, seeking the key areas that enable the protease to do its job. These areas may one day become targets for development of new drugs to stop SARS.

###

Related Web page:

Ernesto Freire: http://www.bio.jhu.edu/Directory/Faculty/Freire/Default.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Drug Design Expert Sets His Group's Sights On SARS; Biologist To Apply Lessons Learned From HIV Studies To New Outbreak." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030529080559.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2003, May 29). Drug Design Expert Sets His Group's Sights On SARS; Biologist To Apply Lessons Learned From HIV Studies To New Outbreak. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030529080559.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Drug Design Expert Sets His Group's Sights On SARS; Biologist To Apply Lessons Learned From HIV Studies To New Outbreak." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030529080559.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins