Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Cure For Many Viral Infections Found?

Rhino/cold virus
From BBC News via IO9 comes the news that a drug to treat a large variety of viral infection has possibly been discovered.

MIT research scientist Todd Rider says he's developed a drug named Draco, which he says has successfully destroyed 15 different viruses in lab trials.

The reason that earlier attempts to develop a successful broad spectrum anti-viral is the fundamental difference between biologic infectious agents (germs if you will) and viral is much in how they reproduce. Microbes and their ilk can reproduce by fission by themselves. If you kill the microbe, you control the spread of infection. Viruses on the other hand invade a cell and hijack the cell's reproductive machinery to make copies of the invading virus in large quantities. So many in fact that the cell burst spreading copies of the virus, that start the process all over again. The virus is only at risk while outside a cell. Once they have invaded a cell they are virtually undetectable.

Rider's drug Draco uses this "behavior" to kill the virus. Draco consists of two proteins. One to detect a viral invader and the other to kill the cell outright so that it can not be used for reproduction. This approach should be effective from everything from a cold virus to HIV. Initial tests have been promising but there is still a long trial schedule ahead for Draco or another anti-viral.

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