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IIT Roorkee Identifies Molecule with Antiviral Activity Against Chikungunya

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee have identified a molecule that has the potential of antiviral activity against chikungunya virus. The antiviral activity achieved around 99 per cent reduction in the virus. At present, there are no drugs or vaccine available in the market to treat chikungunya disease.

The research team led by Prof Shailly Tomar, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Roorkee, used structure-based studies of chikungunya virus specific nsP2 protease to identify molecules — Pep-I and Pep-II — that exhibited protease inhibitory as well as antiviral activity.

Speaking about the importance of this research, Prof. Shailly Tomar said, "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. We identified a molecule that not only possesses anti-nsP2 activity but also effectively kills the chikungunya virus in the cell based assays."

One of the two molecules — Pep-I — has higher antiviral activity against chikungunya virus.

Speaking about the future work that is going to be done in this direction, Prof Tomar said, "Derivatives of PeP-I and PeP-I like molecules are being developed that will be tested for their antiviral potential in animal model"

The research was funded by the grant from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and published recently in the Elsevier journal 'Biochimie 

According to the researchers, any molecule that inhibits nsP2 protease should possess antiviral activity. To test the hypothesis they carried out antiviral studies using cell lines.

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