A potential target for developing broad-spectrum antiviral therapies: Study finds inhibiting enzyme boosts the innate immune response

Researchers have identified a promising strategy for development of broad-spectrum antiviral therapies that centers around promoting a strong immune response capable of stopping a number of viruses in their infectious tracks.

Experiments in cell cultures and mice showed that blocking the function of a specific enzyme present in all cells triggers a powerful innate immune response, the body’s first line of defense against any foreign invader. When challenged by several types of viruses in the study, this response dramatically lowered replication of viral particles and protected mouse lungs from damage.

There are still several avenues to explore, but the scientists say the finding could help change the approach to developing antiviral medications.

“Typically, in antiviral development, the saying is, ‘one bug, one drug,'” said Jianrong Li, co-senior author of the study and a professor of virology in The Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Biosciences and Infectious Diseases Institute.

“A drug that can stimulate the immune system to have broad antiviral activities would be very attractive — one drug against multiple bugs would be an ideal situation.”

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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