BioCryst Inc. said Tuesday that it has received a $50,000Phase I small business innovation research grant from theNational Institutes of Health to develop a treatment forinfluenza.

The grant is for the design and synthesis of inhibitors to theenzyme influenza neuraminidase, which catalyzes thetransport of the flu virus through the cell walls and promotesthe spread of the virus through the body.

The company's goal is a tablet that flu victims could take totreat the disease. A future target is a preventative that wouldreplace flu vaccines.

Current flu vaccines are only about 70 percent effectivebecause the composition of the enzyme changes from one viralstrain to another, said company President Frederick J. Dechow.BioCryst has solved the three-dimensional structure of theenzyme, which may enable the privately held Birmingham, Ala.,company to design an inhibitor that will work against all typesof flu. -- KB

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.