MIT drug could kill nearly any viral infection

first_imgAntibiotics are wonderful things — in certain cases, of course. While they’re incredibly useful at combating harmful bacteria in our bodies, they are completely ineffective against viral infections. Even in the case of something as comparatively harmless as the common cold there’s not an antibiotic around that can stop it in its tracks.That’s how it’s been for decades, but now a group of MIT researchers has developed a new drug that may radically change the way viruses are treated. Dubbed DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), the new antiviral agent seeks out RNA in cells that have been modified by a virus. While DRACO’s design allows it to penetrate any cells, the presence of virus-generated RNA makes the cells unique from any healthy cells found in humans or animals. If DRACO doesn’t see that modified RNA,  it leaves a cell alone — otherwise, it binds itself to the cell’s RNA and initiates the self-destruct sequence.So far, testing has been performed on cultured human and animal cells, and DRACO’s results were extremely positive against infections ranging from polio to various rhinoviruses. Live mice have also been tested,  and subjects that had been infected with the dreaded H1N1 influenza virus were completely cured following treatment with DRACO. Researchers have now begun testing on other viruses in mice.Along with its potent broad-spectrum offense against viruses, DRACO also offers another significant advantage over the handful of existing antiviral agents. Whereas its precursors are fairly susceptible to viral resistance, DRACO is not. Stanford professor of microbiology and immunology Karla Kirkegaard says that with DRACO “it’s hard to think of a simple pathway to drug resistance.”While it might not be as “Star Trek” cool as printable organs or an actual medical tricorder, there’s no denying DRACO’s awesome potential.More at MITlast_img read more

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