The 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus pandemic and the ongoing threat of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza strains have focused attention worldwide on the urgent need for new options of effective anti-influenza drugs, when the public is not protected by vaccination. The need is pressing since several circulating influenza strains are resistant to the currently stockpiled neuraminidase inhibitors.

The FLUPHARM project will exploit recent advances in the detailed elucidation of the structure and function of the viral polymerase to develop new drug candidates that inhibit viral replication (by targeting the PB2 and PA protein domains). Such drugs are expected to have a reduced risk of resistance development as the viral polymerase – in contrast to influenza envelop proteins – is highly conserved among all influenza A strains.

The research team includes several of the most respected influenza virus research groups working on structure, function, and pathogenesis associated with the viral polymerase, including groups that have generated recent X-ray structures of two functional polymerase domains, within the EU-funded FLUPOL project.

If successful, FLUPHARM will provide new opportunities to treat both seasonal and pandemic flu, including the currently circulating swine origin H1N1 and highly pathogenic avian H5N1 strains. It may thus have an enormous impact on both worldwide public health care and the competitiveness of the European pharmaceutical sector.

The project is funded by the EU and Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

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