Updated on 21 November 2012
According to the researchers, the ammunition is running out in the battle with drug-resistant influenza viruses
Singapore: Scientists from The Genomics Research Center of Academia Sinica in Taiwan have developed a simple system to detect Tamiflu susceptibilities of the influenza viruses that show up in clinics.
Tamiflu, an orally available drug targeting influenza neuraminidase, has been used widely in clinics for treating influenza virus infections. Over the years, influenza viruses have developed resistance to Tamiflu. A timely judgment of the use of Tamiflu or Zanamivir, another neuraminidase inhibitor with nasal administration, on treating virus-infected patients is important to ensure correct and effective treatment. Once resistant viruses are found, new anti-influenza agents are needed to treat the patients carrying drug-resistant viruses.
The researchers created a chemical probe to differentiate Tamiflu-resistant viruses. The chemical probe is a zanamivir-biotin (ZB) conjugate that has zanamivir to bind both sensitive and resistant viruses, and has biotin as a reporter to generate signals. In this Resistance Assessment by Binding Competition (RABC) method, the chemical probe competes with oseltamivir carboxylate (the active ingredient of Tamiflu) for binding to the virus. That is, the chemical probe binds Tamiflu-resistant viruses to release signal, but not the Tamiflu-sensitive viruses in the presence of oseltamivir carboxylate.
The group further used this method to examine the pandemic and Taiwan seasonal influenza isolates collected between 2005 and 2009. They found that many 2009 pandamic viruses and all seasonal influenza strains in Taiwan were Tamiflu resistant since late 2008.
Unlike the laboratory tests that require sophisticated instruments, the RABC assay can be modified into a quick test and the results are judged by naked eyes. In combination with the sugar array technologies developed at the Genomics Research Center, the RABC assay is used for simultaneous determination of hemagglutinin subtypes and the Tamiflu susceptibility of influenza viruses.