Drs. Sumit Chanda and Erkki Ruoslahti have received write-ups at two very distinct sites. Dr. Chanda’s flu research, which was published in February in Nature, was recently highlighted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, one of the National Institutes of Health. The work, a collaboration with Mount Sinai , Salk and GNF, identified 295 human proteins and other molecules that influenza A strains must harness to infect a cell. As the article points out, the flu virus contains only 11 proteinsand must rely on our own cellular machinery to keep going. In many ways, these host factors may be better targets for treatment.
Current flu drugs are aimed directly at the influenza virus. But the flu virus mutates readily and these frequent changes allow it to gain resistance to antiviral drugs. However, if a drug were to be targeted to factor in the human host instead of being aimed directly at the virus, the pathogen’s ability to escape through mutation would be thwarted.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ruoslahti, who cofounded the Sanford-Burnham, UC Santa Barbara Center for Nanomedicine, was quoted in an article about robots at CNBC. Dr. Ruoslahti has been working with engineers at UC Santa Barbara to create nanorobots to home in on diseased cells.
“At this point, we can increase the activity of any anticancer drug by three fold or better,” he says. “We get more drug to the tumor and that makes a huge difference. If you can increase its concentration, the side effects remain the same, but the effectiveness is higher.”