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New drug could cure nearly any viral infection

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by santi, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. santi

    santi

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    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/antiviral-0810.html

    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.

    [​IMG]

    The microscope images above show that DRACO successfully treats viral infections. In the left set of four photos, rhinovirus (the common cold virus) kills untreated human cells (lower left), whereas DRACO has no toxicity in uninfected cells (upper right) and cures an infected cell population (lower right). Similarly, in the right 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). | Enlarge image
    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.

    This work is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, with previous funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Director of Defense Research & Engineering (now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering).
  2. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member

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    surely if it was that simple then at some point in the last few hundeds of millions of years nature would have come up with it?

    or have I just seen too many wonderdrug makes zombie movies?
  3. Vanguard

    Vanguard

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    Looks impressive, but imagine the drug companies that are scared of this...they're going to do everything they can do delay or stop it from being released.
  4. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    Your statement is completely flawed in my eyes. You don't take into account that we make huge progress in all kinds of fields. Do you think that the Romans had computers? Do you think that mankind knew what genes or stem cells were in the middle ages? No? Then why do you refer to our past as if we had all the advances we have today? We were never closer to cure illnesses than we are today. CFS will be cured sooner or later but what I and everyone else can say without any fallacy is that we are closer than ever before. I'm quite sure that the cure for CFS will not come from CFS research because funding is nearly nonexistent but if we can reprogram complete immune systems and if we can regrow organs, we can heal this damn illness by sure someday soon!

    [video=youtube;lAI5rLnnCBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAI5rLnnCBE[/video]
  5. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    i sort of know where your coming from, theres more money to be made from drug companies treating symptoms as this keeps you ill forever where as a cure u fixes you forever and not needing to rely on drugs to keep functioing i guess. I could imagine the makers of duloxetine or lyrica being against a drug that cures fibro with a weeks course of treatment as this would kill of there sales quickly. Maybe we are to into conspiracy theories due to being mucked around with cfs for so long.

    cheers!!!
  6. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    Hi ...

    This may not be such a good idea. Much like antibiotics it would kill the good guys too ... tc ... x

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100714/full/news.2010.353.html

  7. redo

    redo Senior Member

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    Great find Sasha.

    I stumbled across the same article in Daily Mail.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/a...ts-work-drug-cure-viruses--including-flu.html

    Here's a quote.


    .

    I really, really hope they will offer this medicine as salvage therapy for those who have such a severe HIV infection that they are about to die (undiscovered, and untreated HIV can turn out that way). And are pleading for a chance to get back to life.

    I guess that would be considered "unethical" for some bizarre reason, but it would sure help speed things along.
  8. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Hi; it does sound potentially exciting, but here is one sentence from the study itself that provides a warning: "More extensive trials are also needed to determine how long after infection DRACOs can be used successfully, or if DRACOs are useful against chronic viral infections without producing unacceptable levels of cell death in vivo." Sounds a bit ominous--if this stuff explodes every infected cell, we might be in trouble... to quote again, "selectively induces apoptosis in cells containing viral dsRNA, rapidly killing infected cells without harming uninfected cells." There might not be much of some of us left! So let's wait and see...again. Chris
  9. santi

    santi

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    Of course it may lead to massive cell killing, so I think they plan to inject little doses each time.
  10. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member

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    I didnt say anything about people, the roman understanding of virus's was a tad limited. What I said was nature. Nature has been combating virus's for a long time, if such a simple technique was viable, pick off any cells with an obvious difference, and it was a successful approach, why doesnt it already happen, why dont cells that detect double stranded RNA self destruct naturally, why arent virus's extinct.

    Infering from the pretty sophisticated methods the immune system already uses that evolution has already tried most of the simple approaches and for one reason or another dismissed them there MAY be a good reason why this approach is not already used by our own biology to combat virus's.

    Flippant my zombie comment may have been but the whole idea of a drug designed to kill off any cell considered aberant, making effectively trillions of "decisions" just in my body (to say nothing of the other 6 to 7 billion people who may catch a virus covered), all of which need to be got right, with the totally open and frank attitude drug companies have to mistakes and accepting responsibility for them, scares the hell out of me.

    This could be the "vacine" to end all vacines, it could also do one hell of a lot of damage if it itself evolves, or if mistakes are made.

    Wonder drugs have a tendence to become the next generations supertoxin, the more wonderful it is the more harm it can potentially cause - and this thing sounds absolutely fantastic!!
  11. eric_s

    eric_s Senior Member

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    I don't think this would happen, but i could be wrong, of course. In a free country, how could they stop a small company from producing this drug, if they don't produce it themselves? I don't think it would be possible. There's so much money to be made with such a drug, if it's a good drug, that their only chance would be to be faster than the competition, not trying to stop the drug, because that would not be possible. At least that's what i believe.
  12. laura

    laura Senior Member

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    Southern California
    The research is very interesting! Thanks for sharing it.
  13. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    Ayeyay this happens so often it is not even funny, I'm sorry to say... Watch the Burzynski movie for starters, to see what lengths are gone to in blocking useful treatments. The application fee alone to take a drug to clinical trials is so prohibitively expensive, it effectively eliminates any small company from ever having a chance to take a new drug to market.
    It may be a free country, but the FDA, the patent office, and pharmacological (or political, or petrochemical ,or agricultural) dominance can be bought for the right amount of money.
  14. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Very true,

    A friend of mine who owned a small research lab found a very promising possible cure for one of the "dreaded diseases." After 10 years of trying to get funding or approval for trials, he went bankrupt and another possible cure bit the dust.

    Sushi
  15. Mya Symons

    Mya Symons Mya Symons

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    Now if someone could just find a pill that could take care of all other illnesses we could get rid of doctors. Yea!
  16. SpecialK82

    SpecialK82 Senior Member

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    I understand that the profit motive would be strong indeed, and it's frightening to think that cures may be squelched because of it.

    But somehow, the right things do come through. For instance, how would we have antibiotics, penicilan, etc? Couldn't the same be said for them?
  17. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    Alot of the badness apparently came about in 1980 when it became legal to patent organisms. This has caused much havoc in the realm of untainted research and funding.
    Also, current FDA regulations and fee schedules did not exist back in those days.
    However, look into Royal Rife and see that even then, smear campaigns and squelching of anything approaching a cure
    for cancer happened in a similar pattern. Apparently some government agency (dunno which) actually went in and burned all his books and research! Oy vey!
  18. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    antibiotics were before being profits were the main motive.
    Conspiracy theory wise though i just think pharma companies are like oil/fuel companies, they buy patents for vehicles that run on laternative fuels and shelve them, they dont want to lose their investments in oil mining etc
  19. Vanguard

    Vanguard

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    Agreed. We're living in a new age where our culture is our worst enemy. Our huge economy and high salaries have gone out of control, money is spent in the trillions of dollars and the business of medicine may be the most powerful market there is. So, the people who make the money selling medicine overpower the people who fight for human rights, or scientists who want to save lives. Unless, the people unite and push the people in power to change the course.
  20. ixchelkali

    ixchelkali Senior Member

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    That was my first thought, too. It could be a heck of a herxheimer reaction.

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