Date Published: December 17, 2009
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Anwar M. Hashem, Anathea S. Flaman, Aaron Farnsworth, Earl G. Brown, Gary Van Domselaar, Runtao He, Xuguang Li, Rosemary Jeanne Redfield. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008350
Abstract: Influenza viruses cause serious infections that can be prevented or treated using vaccines or antiviral agents, respectively. While vaccines are effective, they have a number of limitations, and influenza strains resistant to currently available anti-influenza drugs are increasingly isolated. This necessitates the exploration of novel anti-influenza therapies.
Partial Text: Influenza viruses cause a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. The frequent mutations of influenza genes, particularly those encoding surface hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins, allow the virus to evade the host immune system. This gives rise to new infectious strains responsible for annual epidemics associated with significant morbidity and mortality , . The recent infections of humans with the highly pathogenic avian H5N1  and swine-origin H1N1  influenza viruses reinforce the notion that the emergence of novel virus strains is unpredictable and capable of threatening the worldwide population . Given the magnitude of a flu pandemic as a threat to the global population, it is crucial to have as many prevention and treatment options as possible.
The influenza virus is highly contagious and results in significant morbidity and mortality , . While mass vaccination of a susceptible population is the best approach to prevent influenza infections, propensity for mutation and gene reassortment can result in an occasional emergence of novel and unpredicted influenza virus strains. This can give rise to a global influenza pandemic, such as the current triple reassortant swine-origin H1N1 influenza virus , . Since considerable time is required to develop and distribute vaccines, novel influenza strains can rapidly spread globally before a vaccine is available for mass immunization. Given the potential for widespread influenza infection, it is crucial to understand and improve treatments for this disease.