Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Uses of Flavivirus Protein 3D Structure and Protein Production

Technology #5988

Described here is the 3-dimensional structure of the flavivirus nonstructural glycoprotein (NS1) as well as the methodology to produce, isolate, and purify NS1. In the fields of infectious diseases and virology this technological development will be group breaking for the development of vaccines, antivirals, antibodies, and diagnostics for the treatment of multiple infections from this family. Using their 3-dimensional structure they have also identified regions of NS1 which could be prime targets for antibody binding, and antiviral small molecule inhibitor development.

Resolution of the 3-dimensional structure of an exciting target for antiviral and vaccine development

In order to develop new, targeted therapies in the form of vaccines or drugs which fight infectious disease scientists have begun to use the actual 3-dimensional structure of their target pathogen to “see” where to attack the virus. One of these targets has been extremely elusive and exciting since its discovery in 1970. The virus family known as “flavivirus” includes many dangerous infectious diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. These diseases account for many deaths worldwide and require new ways to treat them. Researchers at the University of Michigan have resolved the 3-dimensional structure of a pathological protein released by cells which are infected with members of the flavivirus family. Although this protein has been identified for over 40 years and attempts at producing vaccines have already been tested, this has been extremely challenging without the 3-dimensional structure. Using their technology the investigators have already identified regions of the protein which could be targeted for antibody binding or drug development. Another exciting use of this technology would be to develop diagnostic kits and techniques which would help hospitals and doctors world-wide diagnose infected individuals early, increasing survival.


  • Vaccine development
  • Antiviral drug discovery
  • Infectious disease diagnostics


  • Create better more effective therapeutic strategies
  • Diagnostic kits could be more cost effective, reaching developing countries
  • Identify infected patients sooner and more accurately