Medicinal Research Reviews vol:34 issue:2 pages:301-39
Influenza A and B viruses are highly contagious respiratory pathogens with a considerable medical and socioeconomical burden and known pandemic potential. Current influenza vaccines require annual updating and provide only partial protection in some risk groups. Due to the global spread of viruses with resistance to the M2 proton channel inhibitor amantadine or the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir, novel antiviral agents with an original mode of action are urgently needed. We here focus on emerging options to interfere with the influenza virus entry process, which consists of the following steps: attachment of the viral hemagglutinin to the sialylated host cell receptors, endocytosis, M2-mediated uncoating, low pH-induced membrane fusion, and, finally, import of the viral ribonucleoprotein into the nucleus. We review the current functional and structural insights in the viral and cellular components of this entry process, and the diverse antiviral strategies that are being explored. This encompasses small molecule inhibitors as well as macromolecules such as therapeutic antibodies. There is optimism that at least some of these innovative concepts to block influenza virus entry will proceed from the proof of concept to a more advanced stage. Special attention is therefore given to the challenging issues of influenza virus (sub)type-dependent activity or potential drug resistance.