ASM News, Journal Articles and Updates

Journal Article of Interest

Computer Modeling Helps Identify New Smallpox Drug Candidate Journal of Virology, 78. 22: 12147-12156, November, 2004

Using bioinformatics and computer modeling, researchers from North Carolina and Oregon have identified a new class of compounds that block a key step in the lifecycle of the smallpox virus and have little toxicity to human cells. They report on this new antiviral drug candidate in the November issue of the Journal of Virology.

An outbreak of the smallpox virus is considered to be one of the greatest threats facing the world today. No antiviral drug has proven effective against human smallpox. One antiviral currently available for treatment of orthopoxviruses offers some defense but must be administered intravenously and has a high risk of adverse side effects.

Recent research has discovered that viruses need specific enzymes, called proteinases, to reproduce. In this study, the researchers created a computer model of the structure of one proteinase (I7L) that that is used by orthopoxviruses, the family of viruses that includes smallpox. The model was computationally queried against a database of approximately 51,000 compounds to narrow the field down to 3,460 potential I7L inhibitors. Additional testing identified a group of chemically related compounds, one of which was TTP-6171, that appear to block replication of orthopoxviruses by inhibiting I7L without being toxic to human cells.

“Based on the results reported here, the chemical compound family represented by TTP-6171 represents a promising avenue toward developing an effective antiviral drug that can be used to prevent or treat diseases caused by orthopoxviruses, such as smallpox,” say the researchers.

(C.M. Byrd, T.C. Bolken, A.M. Mjalli, M.N. Arimilli, R.C. Andrews, R. Rothlein, T. Andrea, M. Rao, K.L. Owens, D.E. Hruby.)

To receive copies of this journal article or for more information contact ASM staff, Jim Sliwa, at

ASM News Articles of Interest – November Features

- The Search for New Antibiotics Targeting the 50S Ribozyme, Joyce A. Sutcliffe

- Integrons and the Origin of Antibiotic Resistance Gene Cassettes, Didier Mazel

To download articles, go to the ASM Newsweb page and scroll down to Features, after logging in with your user name and password.

New from ASM Press
ASM Science

Cellular Microbiology, 2nd Edition, Editors: Pascale Cossart, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France; Patrice Boquet, INSERM, Nice, France; Staffan Normark, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Rino Rappuoli, Chiron Vaccines, Siena Italy

Cellular Microbiology, 2nd Edition, considers genomic information and advances in technology in an updated examination of this burgeoning area of important research. The second edition offers five new chapters that comprehensively cover bacterial human pathogen genomes; structure and dynamics of the host cell membrane; study of prokaryotic biology using genome-wide approaches; cell biology of virus infection; and use of simple nonvertebrate hosts to model mammalian pathogenesis. All chapters are revised and organized like the first edition to provide fundamental details of each discipline along with the cellular microbiology aspects.