Bird flu drugs

In the latest issue of The Alchemist on I provide a round-up of the week’s chemistry news, of particular importance could be news that UK and Australian researchers may have found a new way to approach drug design for bird flu viruses that precludes drug resistance.

A new drug to fight bird flu that should be able to side-step the emergence of viral resistance is being developed by Andrew Watts of the University of Bath, UK and Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin of CSIRO Australia. Both Tamiflu and Relenza, the two drugs currently being stockpiled by governments in preparation for a global outbreak of bird flu, are inherently susceptible to resistance because of the way they work. Although the new drug acts on the same target as these treatments, the enzyme neuraminidase, it targets a specific region of the enzyme that essential to its function. If this region mutates the virus would no longer be viable, so that resistance cannot emerge.

Read about this and more in this week’s Alchemist.