drug targets for nipah virus
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Drug Targets for Nipah Virus Identified by IISER Pune Scientists

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune developed drug targets for the dreaded Nipah Virus using molecular modeling.

Nipah virus outbreaks had very high mortality rates, around 70% in Southeast Asia. The virus spreads through body secretions of pigs, bats, and infected individuals. First detected in Malaysia 1998, Nipah later found its way to India and Bangladesh.

The genetic material of the Nipah virus is RNA encapsulated in a protein envelope. Like any other virus, Nipah makes copies of its genetic material, attacks and hijacks the machinery of host cells. The protein envelope of Nipah is made of six proteins, and three more proteins are produced by the RNA to defend itself from the immune response.

These nine proteins were considered as therapeutic targets by scientists. They sequenced the genome of a Malaysian strain of the Nipah virus and developed computer models of those proteins. Using these computer models, researchers designed molecules that could interact and interfere with the molecular mechanisms of the viral proteins, eventually killing or disabling the virus.

They sequenced the genomes of 15 strains of Nipah virus from India, Bangladesh, and

Malaysia and confirmed that the parts of proteins that would interact with the drug molecules are conserved among the strains.

Structures of molecules, along with other details, are available for the public on their institute website.

The scientists aimed to develop therapeutic molecules on a proteome-wide scale, and they believe that the molecules developed could help drug development against Nipah.  PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases published the research work. The project was funded by CSIR, Welcome Trust DBT and DST.

The research team: Neeladri Sen, Ankit Animesh Roy, Tejashree Rajaram Kanitkar, Kaustubh Amritkar, Neelesh Soni, , Shreyas Supekar, Gulzar Singh, M.S.Madhusudhan and Sanjana Nair.

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