Scientists Prepare for Next H1N1 Mutation

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Swine Flu H1N1 Mutation

Scientists are thinking ahead about H1N1 swine flu, mutation that could prove to be resistant to antiviral drugs. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute propose an entirely new way to combat H1N1 swine flu by targeting both the H and N components of the virus in preparation for the next mutation of H1N1 swine flu.

Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. '59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering from Rensselaer explains, "By targeting both portions of the virus, the H and the N, we can interfere with both the initial attachment to the cell that is being infected and the release of the budding virus from the cell that has been affected." Preparing for mutation of the H1N1 virus ahead of time only makes sense. Current drugs would only target one portion of the virus.


Linhardt says, “We are seeing promising preliminary results that the chemistry of this approach will be effective in blocking the hemagglutinin portion of the disease that is currently not targeted by any drug on the market." Current drugs to combat the flu only target one of the outer neuraminidase proteins (N) in H1N1 flu, while the other outer proteins, hemagglutinin (H), remain unaffected. The approach can be modified, depending on how the H1N1 virus mutates.

Preparing for the next H1N1 virus mutation by joining small units of substance together depending on the need, is known as “click chemistry." Robert Linhardt is one of the first scientists to use the technique to help combat flu by creating new antiviral agents.

According to Linhardt, there is still some work to be done, in preparation for the next H1N1 swine flu mutation, but research is moving forward quickly. The next step is to see if H1N1 can be blocked in test tubes using the technique, followed by tests on animals to prepare for the next H1N1 swine flu virus mutation.