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Targeting a metabolic pathway to fight the flu

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  • Targeting a metabolic pathway to fight the flu

    FEBS J. 2017 Jan;284(2):218-221. doi: 10.1111/febs.13997.
    Targeting a metabolic pathway to fight the flu.

    Boergeling Y1, Ludwig S1.
    Author information


    Our antiviral arsenal to fight influenza viruses is limited and we need novel anti-flu drugs. Recently, cellular drug targets came into focus and omics analysis were instrumental to suggest candidate factors. In this issue of The FEBS Journal, Kainov and colleagues used transcriptome data to investigate virus-induced changes in tryptophan metabolism that may serve as immunomodulatory approach against viruses.
    2017 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

    PMID: 28121076 DOI: 10.1111/febs.13997
    [PubMed - in process]

  • #2
    This is interesting since they are looking at immune modulation, rather than antiviral action.

    Tryptophan is one of the nine essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body and thus needs to be taken up from external sources. Tryptophan acts as a biosynthetic precursor to various metabolic pathways leading to a high versatility in end products, such as proteins, serotonin and kynurenines (reviewed in [5]). The kynurenine pathway represents the major catabolism route, accounting for the degradation of approximately 99% of ingested tryptophan not used for protein synthesis. This pathway constitutes the starting point for the synthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in mammals, and dysregulation or overactivation can lead to alterations in immune system activation and accumulation of neurotoxic compounds (reviewed in [6]).
    In conclusion, based on the aforementioned findings, the kynurenine metabolic pathway provides potential avenues toward development of anti-influenza strategies via immunomodulatory mechanisms. Despite having possibly no direct effects on pathogen load, modulation of the immune response has been shown to be a promising approach in patients for specific diseases [16].
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