Antiviral susceptibility of influenza viruses isolated from patients pre- and post-administration of favipiravir

Emi Takashita, Miho Ejima, Rie Ogawa, Seiichiro Fujisaki, Gabriele Neumann, Yousuke Furuta, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Masato Tashiro, Takato Odagiri
Antiviral Research 2016, 132: 170-7
Favipiravir, a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor, has recently been approved in Japan for influenza pandemic preparedness. Here, we conducted a cell-based screening system to evaluate the susceptibility of influenza viruses to favipiravir. In this assay, the antiviral activity of favipiravir is determined by inhibition of virus-induced cytopathic effect, which can be measured by using a colorimetric cell proliferation assay. To demonstrate the robustness of the assay, we compared the favipiravir susceptibilities of neuraminidase (NA) inhibitor-resistant influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2), A(H7N9) and B viruses and their sensitive counterparts. No significant differences in the favipiravir susceptibilities were found between NA inhibitor-resistant and sensitive viruses. We, then, examined the antiviral susceptibility of 57 pairs of influenza viruses isolated from patients pre- and post-administration of favipiravir in phase 3 clinical trials. We found that there were no viruses with statistically significant reduced susceptibility to favipiravir or NA inhibitors, although two of 20 paired A(H1N1)pdm09, one of 17 paired A(H3N2) and one of 20 paired B viruses possessed amino acid substitutions in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase subunits, PB1, PB2 and PA, after favipiravir administration. This is the first report on the antiviral susceptibility of influenza viruses isolated from patients after favipiravir treatment.

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