The results of their work have recently been published in the prestigious peer-review Journal of the American Chemical Society – Biochemistry.
AIDS is one of the most devastating diseases and is a major cause of death among youth in many parts of the world. Since its outbreak nearly four decades ago, tremendous efforts have been directed towards development of antiretroviral therapies that target different stages in the life cycle of the virus that causes this deadly disease.
The pressing need for better drugs to combat drug-resistant HIV strains led researchers such as Prof. Sanjib Senapati to delve into the molecular structure of the protease to identify weak sites that can offer a handle for better inhibitor development, said IIT-M.
One of the routes that drug developers work on is to attack is HIV-1 protease (HIVPR), an essential enzyme that is used by the AIDS virus for growth and maturation. Drug designers have aimed at developing efficient inhibitors of the enzyme – inhibitors are molecules that bind with the enzyme, thereby making it unavailable to the virus for growth and maturation.
Senapati said: “Current inhibitors that target HIVPR make use of the weak forces of attraction called ‘van der Waal’s forces’ to attach themselves to the protease molecule. Given that these forces are weak, the efficacy of the drug is variable and the virus will soon become resistant to them.”
Recent useful data obtained using analytical techniques such as neutron diffraction and NMR, on the molecular structure of the target HVPR enzyme, have encouraged Prof. Sanjib Senapati to re-visit the patterns of HVPR-inhibitor binding. By using state-of-art computational techniques his team has uncovered vital data that can be used for design of more efficacious drugs.
The Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation studies conducted by IIT Madras Researchers showed the presence of a strong and asymmetrical electric charge in the active site of the HIVPR. If a drug molecule can be designed with a complementary charge, so that it can bind tightly with this active site through electrostatic attraction, it can permanently deactivate/inhibit the enzyme.
“Current drugs lack this electrostatic complementarity. This must be investigated because it is well-known that electrostatic forces between molecules are much stronger than van der Waals forces,” added Prof. Sanjib Senapati.
Thus, Senapati and his team propose that drug design strategies should embrace both electrostatics and van der Waals interactions to complement the HIVPR active site architecture. Further, the team believes that such compounds will be effective against both wild type and resistant HIV variants.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.