Naproxen shows antiviral activity against flu
New influenza vaccines must be developed every year because of mutations in the virus' surface proteins. The French research team found a more reliable target for anti-influenza activity, the nucleoprotein that assembles ribonucleoprotein complexes that are necessary for replication.
Once the nucleoprotein's three-dimensional structure was solved in 2006, scientists began searching for biochemicals that could interfere with its action. Screenings eventually identified Naproxen, better known as the pain-reliever Aleve, as capable of binding to the nucleoprotein and impeding RNA binding.
In further testing, the scientists, led by Anny Slama-Schwok, found that Naproxen reduced viral load in cells infected with H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus. In mice, Naproxen demonstrated a therapeutic index against influenza A greater than those of other anti-inflammatories.
The research team said naproxen is a lead compound for drug development that could be readily improved to boost its ability to bind to nucleoprotein further.
The researchers said naproxen, as an already approved drug, could become a treatment against influenza relatively quickly. Their findings are a result of a structure-based investigation published in the American Society for Microbiology journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.