We describe an antiviral small molecule, LJ001, effective against numerous enveloped viruses including Influenza A, filoviruses, poxviruses, arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, paramyxoviruses, flaviviruses, and HIV-1. In sharp contrast, the compound had no effect on the infection of nonenveloped viruses. In vitro and in vivo assays showed no overt toxicity. LJ001 specifically intercalated into viral membranes, irreversibly inactivated virions while leaving functionally intact envelope proteins, and inhibited viral entry at a step after virus binding but before virus–cell fusion. LJ001 pretreatment also prevented virus-induced mortality from Ebola and Rift Valley fever viruses.
Although the compound does cause damage to host cell membranes whose composition is nearly identical with that of virus envelopes, it caused them no ill effects. The reason, according to the researchers: Cells can rapidly repair their membranes, but viruses can't fix their envelopes.
"At antiviral concentrations, any damage it does to the cell's membrane can be repaired, while damage done to static viral envelopes, which have no inherent regenerative capacity, is permanent and irreversible."A more general description of the paper is available here but there hasn't been much media interest in this exciting development yet.