Researchers at LUMS Report the Discovery of a Potential Drug Against Dengue Virus

Friday, January 18, 2019 - 4pm

A team of researchers working in the Medicinal Chemistry group of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) have published a research article, titled, Inhibition of Dengue Virus Protease by Eugeniin, Isobiflorin, and Biflorin from the Flower Buds of Syzygium aromaticum (Cloves) in ACS Omega.

Hafiza Nosheen Saleem, under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Saeed discovered a natural product (eugeniin) from cloves as a potent ‘hit’ for the development of a new medicine for the treatment of the dengue infection. The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility in collaboration with Dr. Syed Shahzad-ul-Hussan at the Department of Biology played a significant role in the identification and explanation of the drug-target interactions.

Dengue virus is rampant in Pakistan and responsible for sporadic outbreaks in Punjab, KPK and Sindh. There currently exists no medicine for the treatment of patients suffering from severe dengue fever. Even for other diseases, the country is mainly dependent on medicines discovered and developed in the West. The Medicinal Chemistry group wanted to change this situation and took the initiative to discover new drugs that will help in curbing dengue and other viruses.

In this study, several herbs and medicinal plants of Pakistan were screened for their potential to interfere in the process of virus reproduction. It turns out that the spice we commonly use in our cuisine, i.e. cloves, contains a chemical, eugeniin, that can stop the synthesis of viral components and halt their assembly into a mature virus, in turn, stopping the virus’ reproduction.

“This article gives me a new energy to pursue higher education in Medicinal Chemistry,”said Ms. Saleem when asked about her future goals. Dr. Saeed, the principal investigator of this study is optimistic about the development of a local medicine against the dengue virus and other viral diseases. The study was supported by the Faculty Initiative Fund (FIF) from LUMS and the National Research Programme for Universities (NRPU) from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.