Hop and echinacea extracts as antiviral agents to support and prevent influenza virus infection

Proponente Lucia Nencioni - Professore Ordinario
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca

Nowadays influenza remains one of main causes of morbidity worldwide, with seasonal epidemics and periodic pandemics. Influenza is caused by an enveloped RNA virus that infects the upper airways, but complications at lower respiratory tract, especially in children and elderly, can occur. Although different strategies have been approached to prevent the disease and/or manage its complications, the only anti-influenza drugs approved by FDA belong to two classes of inhibitors, which target the viral matrix protein 2 and neuraminidase. Unfortunately, their efficacy is often limited by toxicity and by the emergence of novel drug-resistant viral mutants. Therefore, research in the field is looking for alternative molecules, both of natural or synthesis origin, which may interfere with different targets, including cell host structures and pathways that virus exploits for its replication. Emerging evidences also highlight the possible usefulness of natural phytocomplex from medicinal plants in medicine, due to the complex synergistic effects occurring among the phytoconstituents.
In detail, the specific objectives of the proposal will be:
a) To evaluate the antiviral activity of extracts of hop cones and echinacea root on epithelial cells infected with influenza A virus and to clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the eventual inhibition of viral replication.
b) To verify whether a combination of both extracts may display synergistic effects on the control of viral replication.
c) To evaluate their potential ability of increasing the effectiveness of well-known antiviral drugs.
The results obtained will represent a new strategy to support standard anti-influenza therapy and to reverse the antiviral drug resistance.

LS6_7, LS6_6, LS7_4

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