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Pictures of a sniffle stopper at work.

Pictures of a sniffle stopper at work

With the help of a high-energy synchrotron and a supercomputer, researchers have discovered how an experimental drug blocks replication of cold viruses.

Last year Michael G. Rossmann and colleagues at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., used a synchrotron to bombard cold virus crystals with high-energy X-rays. They analyzed the diffraction pattern with a supercomputer, and generated a three-dimensional picture of the virus (SN:9/21/85,p,181). "Valleys" on the virus surface remain constant from generation to generation, while the exposed hills change -- explaining why people can't build up permanent immunity to colds.

The Purdue group collaborated with researchers from the Sterling-Winthrop Research Institute in Rensselaer, N.Y., to study experimental antiviral agents developed by Sterling that have shown promise in test-tube experiments (SN:5/11/85,p.292). The new drugs prevent the virus from shedding its coat after it has infected a cell. The researchers studied the virus-drug interaction with the synchrotron and supercomputer, and describe the results in the Sept. 19 SCIENCE--a "picture" of the pairing, showing that the drug inserts itself into the valley, where they believe it works either by blocking ion flow into the virus or by shoring up the valley so it can't collapse during replication.
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Title Annotation:synchrotron and supercomputer used to study antiviral agents
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 4, 1986
Words:211
Previous Article:Helping the body kick out cancer.
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