Publication Date



Antiviral Research


Year-round virological characterization of circulating epidemic influenza viruses is conducted worldwide to detect the emergence of viruses that may escape pre-existing immunity or acquire resistance to antivirals. High throughput phenotypic assays are needed to complement the sequence-based analysis of circulating viruses and improve pandemic preparedness. The recent entry of a polymerase inhibitor, baloxavir, into the global market further highlighted this need. Here, we optimized a cell-based assay that considerably streamlines antiviral and antigenic testing by replacing lengthy immunostaining and imaging procedures used in current assay with measuring the enzymatic activity of nascent neuraminidase (NA) molecules expressed on the surface of virus-infected cells. For convenience, this new assay was named IRINA (Influenza Replication Inhibition Neuraminidase-based Assay).

IRINA was successfully validated to assess inhibitory activity of baloxavir on virus replication by testing a large set (>150) of influenza A and B viruses, including drug resistant strains and viruses collected during 2017–2022. To test its versatility, IRINA was utilized to evaluate neutralization activity of a broadly reactive human anti-HA monoclonal antibody, FI6, and post-infection ferret antisera, as well as the inhibition of NA enzyme activity by NA inhibitors. Performance of IRINA was tested in parallel using respective conventional assays.

IRINA offers an attractive alternative to current phenotypic assays, while maintaining reproducibility and high throughput capacity. Additionally, the improved turnaround time may prove to be advantageous when conducting time sensitive studies, such as investigating a new virus outbreak. This assay can meet the needs of surveillance laboratories by providing a streamlined and cost-effective approach for virus characterization.


Influenza, Neuraminidase, Antiviral resistance, HINT, Baloxavir, NA inhibitor



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.