Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee have identified a molecule that contains antiviral activity against the deadly chikungunya virus, raising hopes of detecting a way to combat the mosquito-borne disease.
Chikungunya causes fever and join pain. At present, there are no drugs or vaccine available in the market to treat it. The antiviral activity has accomplished around 99 per cent reduction in the deadly virus, said the study.
The team used studies to identify two molecules – Pep I and Pep II that contained protease inhibitory as well as antiviral activity.
“The nsP2 protease is a strict viral enzyme, meaning it is absent in humans, and thus, is an excellent antiviral drug target for chikungunya virus,” said lead researcher Shailly Tomar, Professor at IIT-Roorkee.
“Our research group has targeted nsP2 using biochemical and structure-based approach. We identified a molecule that not only possesses anti-nsP2 activity but also effectively kills the chikungunya virus in the cell based assays,” Tomar said in a statement.
“Derivatives of PeP-I and PeP-I like molecules are being developed that will be tested for their antiviral potential in animal model,” Tomar said.
Any molecule that inhibits nsP2 protease should contain antiviral activity. To test it, they carried out studies using cell lines. The antiviral activity was tested by adjoining the molecules directly into the virus culture. Both the molecules reduces the viral RNA, confirming the antiviral activity.
“Out of the two molecules, PeP-I is more effective as an antiviral molecule as no virus was detected in cultured cells at concentration as low as 10 mM (microMolar),” study author Rajat Mudgal, IIT-Roorkee said.