Photo: Thomas Angermann on Flickr
A new drug developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could cure nearly any virus.We’re not kidding.
Though still in its early stages, researchers think that the antiviral treatment — called Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO) — could be successful in combating any number of viral diseases. The treatment works by encouraging infected cells to commit cell suicide.
In preliminary testing, the drug proved effective against 15 different viruses — including H1N1 — yet nontoxic in 11 types of mammalian cells. It even proved capable of saving mice infected with H1N1 influenza.
“In theory, it should work against all viruses,” said scientist Todd Rider, who invented the technology.
Rider and his team published the results of their tests in this paper in late July.
Here’s the abstract:
Currently there are relatively few antiviral therapeutics, and most which do exist are highly pathogen-specific or have other disadvantages. We have developed a new broad-spectrum antiviral approach, dubbed Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO) that selectively induces apoptosis in cells containing viral dsRNA, rapidly killing infected cells without harming uninfected cells. We have created DRACOs and shown that they are nontoxic in 11 mammalian cell types and effective against 15 different viruses, including dengue flavivirus, Amapari and Tacaribe arenaviruses, Guama bunyavirus, and H1N1 influenza. We have also demonstrated that DRACOs can rescue mice challenged with H1N1 influenza. DRACOs have the potential to be effective therapeutics or prophylactics for numerous clinical and priority viruses, due to the broad-spectrum sensitivity of the dsRNA detection domain, the potent activity of the apoptosis induction domain, and the novel direct linkage between the two which viruses have never encountered.
Click here to read the full paper.
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