Can 3D Atomic Structure Aid better Antiviral Drug Development?

New Research maps 3D atomic structure of paramyxovirus to aid antiviral drug development

For the first time, a U.S. scientific team has mapped the 3D atomic structure of a key enzyme of paramyxovirus, which can help develop antiviral drugs including anticoronavirus drugs. The research results were recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Sciences.

Paramyxoviruses are a class of viruses that include common pathogens such as measles, mumps, human parainfluenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Because they are also RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses, paramyxoviruses and coronaviruses behave similarly. Enzymes play an important role in the assembly of RNA molecules and often become targets for antiviral drugs.

2D images of human parainfluenza virus 5 polymerase

Researchers at Northwestern University used cryo-electron microscopy to look deep inside the molecule, captured hundreds of thousands of 2D images of human parainfluenza virus 5 polymerase, and used computer algorithms to reconstruct the 3D atomic structure of the enzyme.
Pic for 3D atomic structure of paramyxovirus to aid antiviral drug development

Studies have found that the enzyme is an irregular sphere with a long tail consisting of four phosphoproteins. Research has also found that the virus uses the same protein for genome replication and transcription.

Ttraditional methods of antiviral drug development 'Luck'

Robert Lam, a professor of molecular biology sciences at Northwestern University in the United States, said that traditional methods of drug development are a bit "luck" and hope that drug candidates can hit their targets. The 3D atomic structure of the key enzymes of the virus has been clarified, which is expected to be targeted when designing drugs. "We need more antiviral drugs to ensure that people can get treatment quickly when they are infected."

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