A recent study shows a new antiviral drug may help protect people from a wide variety of influenza strains, as the compound works independently from the immune system.
Influenza viruses have two different proteins on their shells: neuraminidase (NA) and hemagglutinin (HA). Both of these proteins have an inner stem area and an outer blob, which is continually mutating. This is why flu strains vary each season.
Scientists have been looking for drugs that will fight against a broad variety of strains, believing that antibodies for the HA stem region would be the best option because of how these antibodies protect the immune system. This is why people without a fully functional immune system (including infants, elderly, people with compromised immunes) cannot receive vaccines.
Now researchers have created small molecules that join with the HA stem to fight against the infection. The molecules imitate antibodies without using the immune system. This could prove a more effective way to protect people from influenzas.
It has not yet been tested in humans to see if it is equally stable and strong; first the researchers must continue testing the molecule, HB36.6, to determine whether it will work outside test tubes.