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Enzymes That Could Help Fight Flu

Enzymes That Could Help Fight Flu

Doctor Bumsuk Hahm, and his colleagues at MU examined how the enzymes influence the immune system’s ability to fight infection. Called sphingosine 1-phosphate lyase (SPL) and sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1), they are among a group of metabolising enzymes that affect many cellular processes, including cell growth, survival, movement and specialisation.

“We know these enzymes influence multiple biological mechanisms and could lead to promising drug candidates, but scientists have never studied how these enzymes could be used to fight influenza,” said Hahm. “There are a lot of seasonal flu strains that are resistant to current treatments, including some strains that could cause a global pandemic, so it’s important that we identify and develop new targets for the treatment of influenza.”

In a study Hahm’s research revealed that the enzymes affect the immune system’s ability to detect viruses and resist infection. The new NIH grant will allow him to translate his study from cells to mice, an important step toward the development of a new treatment for humans.

“We found that when we alter the enzymes, the SPL enzyme stops the flu virus’ ability to replicate, while the SK1 enzyme helps the virus to replicate,” Hahm said. “If we can specifically activate SPL or inhibit SK1, we can identify a target for drug therapies that will block the spread of the influenza virus.”

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Missouri