From Argonne Lab APS: “Computer-Designed Proteins to Disarm a Variety of Flu Viruses”
News from Argonne National Laboratory
JUNE 18, 2012
No Writer Credit
“Computer-designed proteins are under construction to fight the flu. Researchers who carried out studies at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory are demonstrating that proteins that are found in nature, but do not normally bind the influenza virus, can be engineered to act as broad-spectrum antiviral agents against a variety of flu virus strains, including the H1N1 pandemic influenza.
Close-up view of the F-HB80.4-SC1918/hemagglutinin interface as determined at . From T.A. Whitehead et al., Nat. Biotech. 30(6), 543 (6 June 2012).
‘One of these engineered proteins has a flu-fighting potency that rivals that of several human monoclonal antibodies,’ said David Baker, professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington, in a report in Nature Biotechnology.
The research team in this study, from the University of Washington, The Scripps Research Institute, and the Naval Health Research Center is making major inroads in optimizing the function of computer-designed influenza inhibitors. These proteins are constructed via computer modeling to fit exquisitely into a specific nano-sized target on flu viruses. By binding the target region like a key into a lock, they keep the virus from changing shape, a tactic that the virus uses to infect living cells. The research efforts, akin to docking a space station but on a molecular level, are made possible by computers that can describe the landscapes of forces involved on the submicroscopic scale.”
Dr David Baker heads up the Baker Laboratory at The University of Washington. The Baker Lab is the home of the Rosetta@home project, a Public Distributed Computing project which runs on BOINC software. Rosetta research studies “… the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases…” using the combined resources of thousands of personal computers at home and at work, which give over their unused CPU cycles for the processing of data.
See the full article here.
Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science