Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drugs Would Reduce Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Bioterrorism Threat, Counter Natural Outbreaks

Date:
September 24, 2006
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Biomedical researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have taken an important early step toward developing effective drug therapies against Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus, a potential bioterrorist weapon. Their achievement: Determining the precise structure of a protein that the virus requires for replication.

Biomedical researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have taken an important early step toward developing effective drug therapies against Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) virus, a potential bioterrorist weapon. Their achievement: determining the precise structure of a protein that the virus requires for replication.

Outbreaks of the mosquito-borne VEE virus periodically ravage Central and South America, infecting tens of thousands of people and killing hundreds of thousands of horses, donkeys and mules. Experts also fear VEE's potential as a weapon of bioterrorism because the virus was developed into a biological weapon during the Cold War by both the United States and the Soviet Union. Analysts fret that terrorists could do likewise.

The protein the scientists focused on is known as the nsP2 protease. It acts like a pair of molecular scissors, chopping another complex of VEE proteins into specific smaller protein molecules that work together to transform living cells into VEE virus factories. "This protein is crucial to VEE virus replication, and we want to create drugs that will turn off such proteins," said Stanley W. Watowich, senior author of a paper on the research to be published in the September 12 issue of the journal Structure. The UTMB associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology added, "Now that we know what this protease looks like, we can begin a systematic computer-based search for compounds that will inhibit its activity, stop the virus from multiplying in infected individuals, and prevent VEE outbreaks from spreading."

VEE protease inhibitors would function much like the protease inhibitors taken by people infected with HIV, Watowich said, but since human and equine immune systems could quickly overwhelm VEE viruses that were unable to replicate, infections would be eliminated instead of merely controlled, and permanent use of the medication would be unnecessary. (Those infected would also acquire immunity to VEE, just as if they had been vaccinated with a weakened form of the virus.)

Potential therapeutic compounds could be available for pre-clinical studies within two years, according to Watowich, thanks to collaborations with powerful computer centers at the University of Texas at Austin and IBM that will be able to take the UTMB protease structure and sift through "libraries" of millions of molecules, looking for those with the right structural and chemical characteristics to keep the "scissors" from closing.

To produce a detailed enough structure to begin this drug search, lead author and Watowich lab postdoctoral fellow Andrew Russo used X-ray crystallography, in which X-rays are used to scan crystallized protein samples, working both with equipment at UTMB and the high power synchrotron radiation source at Louisiana State University's Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices in Baton Rouge. "It took about a year of hard work by Andrew, but it was worth it," Watowich said. "In the future when we're dealing with one of these periodic VEE outbreaks or a bioterrorist attack, it will be a very good thing if we have an effective medicine in the cabinet ready to use."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Drugs Would Reduce Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Bioterrorism Threat, Counter Natural Outbreaks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915203515.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2006, September 24). Drugs Would Reduce Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Bioterrorism Threat, Counter Natural Outbreaks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915203515.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Drugs Would Reduce Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Bioterrorism Threat, Counter Natural Outbreaks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915203515.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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