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Purdue researcher invents molecule that stops SARS
Date:12/23/2008

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University researcher has created a compound that prevents replication of the virus that causes SARS and could lead to a treatment for the disease.

"The outbreak of SARS in 2003 led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses, and there is currently no treatment," said Arun Ghosh, the Purdue professor that led the molecular design team. "Although it is not currently a threat, there is the concern that SARS could return or be used as a biological weapon. It is important to develop a treatment as a safeguard."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing, and the infection can quickly spread from person to person. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, spread through two dozen countries over a period of a few months before it was contained. A total of 8,098 people worldwide became ill and 774 died.

In addition to its ability to block the SARS virus, the molecular compound that inhibits the virus provides new insights into a group of proteins found in a range of diseases including childhood croup, herpes and cancer, Ghosh said.

"The molecular inhibitor we developed is very potent against the SARS virus by binding to and blocking the use of a specific protein, called papain-like protease, or PLpro, involved in viral replication and evasion of the immune system," said Ghosh who has a joint appointment in chemistry and medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. "This is the first design and discovery of an inhibitor for this class of proteins. We are hopeful that this will open the door to new treatments for other diseases as well."

Ghosh's group teamed with a research group led by Andrew Mesecar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The National Institutes of Health infectious disease biodefense program selected the team and funded the research that has been published in the online version of the jo
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Contact: Elizabeth K. Gardner
ekgardner@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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