New research indicates that effective antiviral drugs for multiple influenza A strains could work by attacking combined RNA targets.

“Our initial search uncovered thousands of potential pairs,” says Keng Boon Wee. “While we were pleasantly surprised that only two target sites are sufficient to address all strains from all subtypes simultaneously, we were very excited at the enormous potential to combine these pairs to create even more targets.”

The team discovered that carefully-selected pair combinations could significantly increase a new drug cocktail’s ‘hedge factor’ — the time it takes for a virus to become drug resistant. By targeting pair combinations, antiviral drugs based on AONs could be developed that can provide long-term protection against all Influenza A subtypes and strains.

“Even when we remove targets that cannot be used due to unwanted effects, the potential target space is huge,” says Wee. “Our technique is also applicable to other viruses, including HIV. We hope to work with experimental virologists to validate our combinatorial pairs and develop corresponding RNA therapeutics.”

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of High Performance Computing and Bioinformatics Institute. For more information about the team’s research, please visit the From Sequence to Function webpage.

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