Influenza A Antiviral
A virulent pandemic of the influenza virus is brewing in Earth's bird population and could spreadto humans rapidly, killing as many as 10% of the world population in just a few months' time. Wewould be without defense. Nefarious governments could produce a virulent strain in the lab to dothe same thing, and governments world-wide consider influenza among the top 10 bioterroristthreats.
The Busath Lab has been working since 2000 on the function of one of the influenza proteins, a proton channel known to be blockable by small drugs, and since 2011 on developing new drugs with the hope of inventing one that is inescapable. This research has led so far to presentations at scientific conferences(BPS 2012, BPS 2013, ENC 2013, ICAR 2014, BPS 2015, JMMC 2015, and UCUR 2016), articles (J.Med.Chem. 2014, J.Phys.Chem.2014, J.Phys.Chem. 2015, and BMC Genetics 2015), and three patent applications.
New experimental data obtained in collaboration with Dr. Roger Harrison shows that, by targeting the almost perfectly conserved His37 selectivity filter with metal ions triply-coordinated with drugs previously known to block the channel, we can stop the flu, and we believe it will be a knock-out punch that the virus cannot escape through its usual genome mutation.However, many challenges have yet to be overcome to make such a drug useful to people. These include proving the drugs to be non-toxic and effective against the flu in animals and then both non-toxic and effective in humans. The clock is ticking for us and we are giving our best effort to making such drugs useful (hear recent interview). You are welcomed to help support the undergraduate and graduate research that is focused on this (see below). At the same time, we are working on simpler methodologies that could be commercialized for distribution in a Flu-Kit (call or email Dr. Busath if you are interested to know more).
Ten percent of adults suffer from chronic neuropathic pain. The Busath Lab has been exploring the brain mechanism of chronic pain with goal of further establishing the merit of long-term transcutaneous electrical simulation (TENS), particularly as embodied in the unique protocol used by the Calmare(R) instrument. It is easy to detect changes of blood brain flow in pain matrix centers with functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI) when you pinch someone. But for people in chronic pain, there has previously been no equivalent to "unpinching" that would produce a contrast in blood flow imaging. The Calmare instrument provides us this scientific window. People who have intense peripheral neuropathy often report a large reduction in pain after a 30-minute Calmare treatment.
In August, 2015 we completed an initial double blind study with 18 peripheral neuropathy subjects. Half received a sham treatment receiving traditional TENS and the others received Calmare treatment. Although both groups said they had reduced pain overall, the Calmare group reported the biggest drop in their sharp, burning pain. Furthermore, when the blind was broken and the TENS subjects came back for Calmare treatment a few weeks later, they too reported greatest drops in sharp, burning pain. These results have been presented at three scientific meetings (Snowbird Neuroscience Symposium 2015, Society for Neuroscience 2015, and Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2016). The fMRI results are under analysis.
Currently, we are testing whether the Calmare is significantly better than TENS at permanently reducing pain when a 10-day treatment course is used. We are carrying out the study with volunteer subjects, which we hope to complete in 2017. Utah Valley residents who have severe and constant peripheral neuropathic pain are welcome to call or email Dr. Busath to inquire about the study. We hope this research will lead to broader availability and use of this technology to serve millions of people struggling with chronic, unremitting pain.