RNAi screen yields flu targets
Berlin – Whether pandemic or seasonal, no flu virus can replicate without hijacking various human genes. So why not target flu drugs to affect host genes, thereby minimising the risk that a virus could acquire resistance? Using gene-silencing methods (more...), German researchers have now screened for such human target genes. Headed by Thomas Meyer from the Berlin-based Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, the team knocked down each of 287 candidate human genes in lung cell cultures before infecting them with N1N1, H1N5 and other flu viruses (Nature, doi:10.1038/nature08760). The results of the systematic RNAi screen suggest that some targets may have broad-spectrum therapeutic potential against multiple influenza strains. Inhibition of the cdc kinase with a small molecule compound for example reduced influenza virus replication by more than two orders of magnitude.