against hepatitis C virus have only been partially successful. A major
problem is that antivirals generate drug resistance. Now Seong-Wook Lee
of Dankook University, Yongin, Republic of Korea and his collaborators
have developed agents that bind to the business end of a critical
protein, disabling it so successfully that no resistance has arisen. The
research is published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Virology.
The target protein for the new agents is the NS5B replicase protein,
which is the central catalytic enzyme in HCV replication. The
researchers developed “RNA aptamers” which bind tightly to the part of
that protein that performs the catalysis, disabling the replicase.
Aptamers are short nucleic acids or peptides that provide the same level
of recognition and binding ability that is common to antibodies.