Overnight Crof over at Crofsblog carried an excerpt (see Broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics) from a PLoS One article on research being done at MIT on developing a unique antiviral drug approach, dubbed Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO).
While the popular media has already jumped on this story, all but proclaiming that a `cure for the common cold’ is at hand, extensive testing and research lies ahead before that can become a reality.
Nonetheless, this is a fascinating story.
If future testing shows this drug to be both safe and effective on humans, this could one day end up being a major advance in medical science.
From the MIT Newsroom, we’ve a press release that explains this new discovery.
Photo Credit – MIT
The microscope images above show that DRACO successfully treats viral infections. In this set of four photos, dengue hemorrhagic fever virus kills untreated monkey cells (lower left), whereas DRACO has no toxicity in uninfected cells (upper right) and cures an infected cell population (lower right).
Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza and other ailments.
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office
August 10, 2011
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 MIT’s 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 Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group who invented the new technology.