Skip to comments.New drug could cure nearly any viral infection
Posted on 08/10/2011 8:09:42 AM PDT by Red Badger
Most bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, discovered decades ago. However, such drugs are useless against viral infections, including influenza, the common cold, and deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.
Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MITs Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.
In a paper published July 27 in the journal PLoS One, the researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.
The drug works by targeting a type of RNA produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses. In theory, it should work against all viruses, says Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist in Lincoln Laboratorys Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group who invented the new technology.
Because the technology is so broad-spectrum, it could potentially also be used to combat outbreaks of new viruses, such as the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, Rider says.
Other members of the research team are Lincoln Lab staff members Scott Wick, Christina Zook, Tara Boettcher, Jennifer Pancoast and Benjamin Zusman.
Few antivirals available
Rider had the idea to try developing a broad-spectrum antiviral therapy about 11 years ago, after inventing CANARY (Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields), a biosensor that can rapidly identify pathogens. If you detect a pathogenic bacterium in the environment, there is probably an antibiotic that could be used to treat someone exposed to that, but I realized there are very few treatments out there for viruses, he says.
There are a handful of drugs that combat specific viruses, such as the protease inhibitors used to control HIV infection, but these are relatively few in number and susceptible to viral resistance.
Rider drew inspiration for his therapeutic agents, dubbed DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), from living cells own defense systems.
When viruses infect a cell, they take over its cellular machinery for their own purpose that is, creating more copies of the virus. During this process, the viruses create long strings of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which is not found in human or other animal cells.
As part of their natural defenses against viral infection, human cells have proteins that latch onto dsRNA, setting off a cascade of reactions that prevents the virus from replicating itself. However, many viruses can outsmart that system by blocking one of the steps further down the cascade.
Rider had the idea to combine a dsRNA-binding protein with another protein that induces cells to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell suicide) launched, for example, when a cell determines it is en route to becoming cancerous. Therefore, when one end of the DRACO binds to dsRNA, it signals the other end of the DRACO to initiate cell suicide.
Combining those two elements is a great idea and a very novel approach, says Karla Kirkegaard, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University. Viruses are pretty good at developing resistance to things we try against them, but in this case, its hard to think of a simple pathway to drug resistance, she says.
Each DRACO also includes a delivery tag, taken from naturally occurring proteins, that allows it to cross cell membranes and enter any human or animal cell. However, if no dsRNA is present, DRACO leaves the cell unharmed.
Most of the tests reported in this study were done in human and animal cells cultured in the lab, but the researchers also tested DRACO in mice infected with the H1N1 influenza virus. When mice were treated with DRACO, they were completely cured of the infection. The tests also showed that DRACO itself is not toxic to mice.
The researchers are now testing DRACO against more viruses in mice and beginning to get promising results. Rider says he hopes to license the technology for trials in larger animals and for eventual human clinical trials.
More information: Rider TH, et al. (2011) Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22572. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022572
Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technolog
hey, let’s pack our bags for Bangkok - Just kidding.
This is a major, major discovery. Can you imagine if you could take this like you take a z-pack what that would do to two rows of product at any given drug store?
So far we have only been able to immunize ourselves against viruses...there has never been a cure...this is huge!!
It will only cost $15,000 per dose.
Yes...hopefully it won’t be hijacked by the FDA. Not clear where the financing for the research came from.
male bone smugglers and their ‘husbands’ will jump for joy...
Technology is awesome. Thanks for the post!
MIT discovers it, Pfizer patents it, insurance pays for it, government manages it. Ah, good times.
This is how Zombie Apocolypses start. There’s a miracle drug, and it turns out that it makes Zombies, but they are always the Fast Zombie variant that can leap, run faster than people, and has superhuman strength.
This is a very, very big deal.
Just like in “I Am legend”. Did you notice how much the white female doctor in that movie looked like Hillary Clinton. It was released in mid 2008.
Bingo...My prediction: it will never see the light of day.
Yep, the nulti million dollar cold remedy market would be devistated.
If this does prove viable there will be a huge push to bury it. You’re talking worldwide about 100’s of billions of dollars gone in an instant the day its announced, watching competitors stocks of this will be like looking at Niagara falls.
Maybe I am too jaded, but I always hear of such announcements (mostly cancer therapies bordering on the miraculous), then ....nothing! No more news. I would bet $300 that a year from now this story will have been forgotten.
ah what the hell, I'm in!
Does anybody know if there is a ‘Health and Medicine’ Ping list keeper?...................
I wonder if this would kill sleeper infections like cold sores and chicken pox that never go away.
Given the link these have with alzheimers and other debilitating diseases, it could be huge.
I hope these guys have an IPO, 'cuz no matter how much it is, you could eventually retire off just a few shares.
they need to hurry, I feel a cold coming on.
Take that hackers and computer criminals!
Hey if this can touch HPV I will pay the $15,000 without blinking.
Wrong kind of ‘virus’.................
Very interesting and innovative approach. I hope it works.
I wonder if this could this work for certain cancers?
I wonder if this could this work for certain cancers?
I imagine it would if it was a viral induced cancer...............
Sure, HPV, but the things I worry about are chicken pox and simple cold sores (which used to kill me as a kid -— had them in my nose, troat, ugg).
There is a link between them and (when you get older) alzehimers and other nasty diseases as the virus reactivates.
So huge that it would put all the drug companies out of business - totally. What is the annual $ value of the current 'cold remedies' - Gone! What is the annual $ value of the HIV 'remedies' - Gone! All the immunizations - Gone! If this new drug ever comes to market, it will either cost a king's ransome per dose, or the FDA will deem it dangerous and unusable. Get hold of a DVD of a cheesy 2003 movie called 'Phase IV' with Dean Cain to see what mean. Spoiler plot line:
A Large Multinational Drug Company has found a cure for AIDS. But instead of making the AIDS drug cure available to the general public, the Large Drug Company decide to wipe out any trace that this AIDS drug cure exists.
Hopefully we won't find out the hard way that there was a good reason why our bodies weren't already doing this to fight off viral infections.
All you cells are belong to us!.........................
Hope they still got those mice around and are keeping a good eye on them ~ just waiting for one of them to disappear and a largish fruit fly to show up in its place (as the antivirus drug works its way through the genome additions since some larval form figured out how to excrete calcium carbonate and use it for bones)!
They'll still be in business.
[ This is how Zombie Apocolypses start. Theres a miracle drug, and it turns out that it makes Zombies, but they are always the Fast Zombie variant that can leap, run faster than people, and has superhuman strength. ]
No wonder the CDC has been rambling on about being ready for a Zombie Apolcalypse.
(of course the CDC plan omits self defense)
Of course preparing for a the biological Zombies or the Entitilement Zombies use pretty the same procedures.
- Don’t get bitten: Both carry filthy diseases.
- Don’t get surrounded: The both attack in mobs.
- Keeping the pwoer dry is a good idea for both.
This might also apply to cancers. Some viruses target cancer cells. So, target the cancer cells then target the virus.
That's how the Zombies are made. See post #11.
Actually the body IS doing “this” to fight off viral infections.
It is just that many virus have mechanisms to stop the targeted cell from killing itself.
This drug takes advantage of the body targeting the cell - and then kills it using a different mechanism.
Makes sense ~ swap a runny nose for eternal life!(/s)
Decimon sort of has one.
Hmmmmmm............ Most people don't know they're sick until the infection is generally throughout their body. Killing off a large number of brain cells, nerve cells, heart muscle cells etc. etc. could have major unintended consequences. I would like to know more first.
University of Texas Professor Eric “let’s kill of 90% of the population with ebola” Pianka will not be pleased.
If this really works, you can bet, the FDA will put the brakes on it very quickly or at least slow it down for twenty years.
Check out HeLa cells. They are an immortal cancer cell line. They didn't make Henrietta Lacks immortal - they killed her - but the cancer cell line is immortal - so long as someone cultures it.
Thank goodness a viral infection is not throughout the body - the body has no good way of dealing with an infected cell OTHER THAN killing it.
The cells that this drug will kill are all targeted by the immune system for killing - it is just the virus (usually) has mechanisms that prevent this cell suicide. The order is given - but the order is not carried out. This drug kills those viral infected cells already targeted by the body for death.
To quote Martha Stewart “this is a good thing”. ;)