Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Food additive may prevent spread of deadly new avian flu

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
A common food additive can block a deadly new strain of avian influenza virus from infecting healthy cells, report researchers.

This illustration from the US Centers for Disease Control shows an influenza virus making contact with the respiratory tract of a human, in the very beginning stages of an influenza (flu) infection.
Credit: CDC

A common food additive can block a deadly new strain of avian influenza virus from infecting healthy cells, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine in the online journal, PLOS ONE.

The compound, in wide use as a preservative, binds to a part of the flu virus that has never been targeted by any existing antiviral drug, raising hopes for its effectiveness against multi-drug-resistant flu viruses.

"The recent H7N9 outbreak in China this past March had a mortality rate of more than 20 percent," says Michael Caffrey, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at UIC. That strain, which is new, is already showing resistance to the majority of existing drugs used to treat it, Caffrey said. Preventing an outbreak that could lead to mass casualties would be difficult with the current arsenal.

"The need to develop new antiviral therapeutics now is crucial," he said.

Flu viruses enter host cells using a special protein called hemagglutinin, which acts as a "key" that opens receptors on the cell surface. If hemagglutinin is disabled, the virus is locked out and can't infect cells.

UIC researchers, led by Caffrey, found that the FDA-approved food additive tert-butyl hydroquinone sticks to a specific region on the hemagglutinin molecule. The additive, he said, "attaches to the Achilles' heel of the virus -- a loop-shaped portion of hemagglutinin necessary for binding to cells, making cell infection impossible."

The loop on the hemagglutinin molecule represents a new therapeutic target, since existing drugs don't go after it, Caffrey said.

"Any drugs that focus on the hemagglutinin loop would be totally novel to flu viruses, and so resistance, if developed, would still be a long way off."

Caffrey and his colleagues were looking at a different class of viruses when the first outbreak of the H7N9 virus was reported in China last spring.

"Tert-butyl hydroquinone was known to have virus-blocking effects for H3 viruses," he said. "So when the H7N9 outbreak occurred, we thought we'd see if it had any effect on H7 viruses."

Using a novel technique, the researchers fused the hemagglutinin of the H7N9 virus to a less dangerous virus in order to study it safely. They found that tert-butyl hydroquinone was able to prevent the virus from infecting human lung cells in the lab.

The researchers are now looking for ways to enhance tert-butyl hydroquinone's ability to prevent infection. One way might be to add it to poultry feed. Keeping the virus from spreading in chickens could reduce the likelihood of it jumping to humans, Caffrey said. While the compound is used in a variety of foods as a preservative and stabilizer, questions remain regarding its safety if consumed in very high doses.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aleksandar Antanasijevic, Han Cheng, Duncan J. Wardrop, Lijun Rong, Michael Caffrey. Inhibition of Influenza H7 Hemagglutinin-Mediated Entry. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (10): e76363 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076363

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Food additive may prevent spread of deadly new avian flu." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183906.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2013, October 23). Food additive may prevent spread of deadly new avian flu. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183906.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Food additive may prevent spread of deadly new avian flu." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023183906.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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