June 9, 2020
Leuven researchers have deployed synthetic amyloids to trigger protein misfolding as a strategy to combat the influenza A and Zika virus.
Amyloids are particular protein assemblies with properties similar to silk, that serve numerous functions. They also form upon protein misfolding resulting in protein inactivation.
Frederic Rousseau and Joost Schymkowitz (VIB-KU Leuven) used these properties to invent synthetic amyloid peptides that can be tailored to switch-off the function of desired target proteins. These peptides, termed Pept-ins, already proved to be a valuable approach to tackle bacterial pathogens or slow down tumor growth. Now, Schymkowitz and Rousseau’s team wanted to explore whether pept-ins could also be used to inactivate viral proteins and thereby interfere with viral replication.