Discovery of ‘Achilles heel’ of viruses paves way for drugs to combat flu, yellow fever and Ebola

A new class of drugs capable of targeting an array of different viral infections is on the horizon, after scientists discovered the Achilles heel of viruses ranging from influenza to Ebola.

New research into the way viruses invade human cells through their outer membrane has thrown up the possibility of blocking many kinds of viral infections before they become dangerous, scientists said.

Researchers have found a key human gene that plays a central role in determining whether a virus is able to penetrate a cell. The finding could be used to develop drugs that work against viral infections as diverse as yellow fever, dengue and flu, they said.

The scientists believe that the research could one day lead to a class of anti-virals that could do for viruses what antibiotics have done for many lethal bacterial infections that are now routinely cured with drugs.

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