Structural biology in antiviral drug discovery

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HighlightsResolution of three-dimensional viral structures in the PDB statistically analysed.Evolution of structure-based methods in antiviral drug-discovery overviewed.Different examples of the role of structural biology in the discovery and optimisation of new antivirals examined.Structural biology has emerged during the last thirty years as a powerful tool for rational drug discovery. Crystal structures of biological targets alone and in complex with ligands and inhibitors provide essential insights into the mechanisms of actions of enzymes, their conformational changes upon ligand binding, the architectures and interactions of binding pockets. Structure-based methods such as crystallographic fragment screening represent nowadays invaluable instruments for the identification of new biologically active compounds. In this context, three-dimensional protein structures have played essential roles for the understanding of the activity and for the design of novel antiviral agents against several different viruses. In this review, the evolution in the resolution of viral structures is analysed, along with the role of crystal structures in the discovery and optimisation of new antivirals.

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