Virus research

Difluorosialic acids, potent novel influenza virus neuraminidase inhibitors, induce fewer drug resistance-associated neuraminidase mutations than does oseltamivir.

PMID 26247418


Neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs), including the most frequently prescribed oral therapeutic oseltamivir, play a critical role in the control of severe influenza virus (IFV) infections. However, recent reports of spread of an oseltamivir-resistant H1N1 pandemic strain in individuals who have never been exposed to oseltamivir highlight an urgent need for new antivirals against NAI-resistant IFVs. Difluorosialic acids (DFSAs) are a novel class of anti-IFV NAIs designed based on the mechanism of action of IFV NA, and distinguished by their covalent inhibition mode and their high structural similarity to the natural substrate, sialic acid. These characteristics should render the development of resistance a less rapid process. In this report, we evaluated the relative propensity of influenza A virus (IFV-A) NA to develop resistance against the DFSA class of inhibitor by passaging IFV-A strains in vitro in the presence of either oseltamivir or a representative DFSA (FeqGuDFSA). All the passage-selected lines gained mutations in hemagglutinin. Among the 12 oseltamivir-resistant passaged lines, five gained NA mutations and four of these were the well-defined H275Y mutation that causes oseltamivir resistance. In contrast, out of 15 DFSA-passaged lines, only 2 lines gained NA mutations. Further, NA inhibition assays indicated that these mutations did not change the sensitivity of NA to DFSA and thus the resistance to DFSA was not conferred by these NA mutations. These results strongly suggest that, compared to oseltamivir, IFV is less prone to development of resistance against DFSAs through NA mutations.