NZ team reactivate research into DRACO (renamed VTose), the universal antiviral that could cure ME/CFS

Hip

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A team in New Zealand have picked up the baton on the universal antiviral DRACO, which might cure ME/CFS and many other diseases linked to viruses, as well fight a wide range of acute and chronic viral infections in humans and animals.

Rick Kiessig and Phil Oliver created a biotech start-up company called Kimer Med to pick up on DRACO where its original inventor Dr Todd Rider left off.

The Kimer Med team have created a derivative of DRACO, which they named VTose, and are planning to test it on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. DRACO has already been successfully tested on 15 different viruses.

At the moment, the team at Kimer Med are asking for people to spread the news on social media, online forums, blogs, etc, which will help with funding and progressing the development of VTose.

So if you have a Twitter account, are a blog writer, are in any relevant Facebook groups, etc, you might like to post a link to this thread, and/or to Kimer Med's website.




The Background to DRACO

DRACO achieves a broad-spectrum elimination of viral infection by targeting an Achilles heel found in most viruses: the dsRNA which viruses produce when they infect cells.

DRACO is drawn into virally-infected cells, because DRACO is designed to target and bind to this viral dsRNA. Once inside these infected cells, DRACO kills the cell.

Works for the majority of viruses, since nearly all viruses generate dsRNA in cells.

DRACO simply consists of two proteins "glued" together: a protein which binds to dsRNA, and a second protein which is able to kill the cell (the second protein causes the cell to undergo cell suicide, aka, apoptosis).

DRACO stands for double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizer.



MIT researcher Todd Rider was unable to get funding to continue his research on DRACO, because pharmaceutical companies are not interested in taking it on, as it is too early in its development cycle to attract commercial pharmaceutical interest.

The only organizations who might invest in DRACO are government research funding agencies, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. But these agencies have let Todd Rider's DRACO languish for the last 16 years (if they hadn't, we likely would have had by now the perfect antiviral for the coronavirus pandemic, and for any other pandemic which might hit us future).

There is a Business Insider article which explains why DRACO could not get a research grant.



Todd Rider's 2011 paper on DRACO is here: Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics.
Todd Rider's DRACO patent.

If you search Google, you can find many articles on DRACO.

Kimer Med have a discussion forum here, in case anyone wants to read more about VTose research and development.
 
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Thanks @Hip for updating us on the status of the DRACO approach to broad-spectrum antivirals.

This new startup is indeed going to have to raise a lot of money to get anywhere close to clinical trials. But the approach definitely deserves to be explored further.

One concern about the DRACO approach is that it may turn out to be too good! We still know next to nothing about the human virome, the array of viruses that normally inhabit the human body. Like the microbiome, it's conceivable that some viruses in the human virome may actually serve a good role in the body. What will DRACO's effect on those viruses be? (assuming they exist)

And then there's the problem of virally infected neurons. Neurons are intrinsically resistant to apoptosis, and for a good reason. If neurons readily underwent apoptosis each time they were infected with a virus, we would be too easily susceptible to brain damage, and the integrity of memories and other stored control algorithms in the brain could be too easily erased. What will DRACO's effect on virally infected neurons be?

Just my 2 cents...
 

Hip

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And then there's the problem of virally infected neurons. Neurons are intrinsically resistant to apoptosis, and for a good reason. If neurons readily underwent apoptosis each time they were infected with a virus, we would be too easily susceptible to brain damage, and the integrity of memories and other stored control algorithms in the brain could be too easily erased. What will DRACO's effect on virally infected neurons be?
Yes, that is a very good point.

I know in one ME/CFS brain autopsy performed by Dr John Richardson, the coxsackievirus B infection in the brain was found in the glial cells (like astrocytes), and also in the walls of the brain blood vessels. If the virus typically infects astrocytes rather than neurons in ME/CFS patients, then perhaps it would not be so bad if those astrocyte cells were killed.

By contrast, in a study I read which found preliminary evidence for enterovirus infection in the brain of Parkinson's patients, in this case the virus appeared to be located in the neurons.
 
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Learner1

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Curing ME/CFS with an antiviral has been tried before. Cure is too strong a word. Having something that could go after a variety of viruses would truly be useful, but it doesn't sound like this would do anything to repair the cascade of other effects that a virus has, including damage to tissues, biochemical deficiencies and imbalances, and the triggering of numerous autoimmune problems. Those would have to be addressed before someone would be cured.
 

Hip

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Curing ME/CFS with an antiviral has been tried before.
The antivirals we have used so far have not been able to eradicate any of the ME/CFS viruses from the body, because present drugs are not powerful enough. If we could completely eradicate the virus, any downstream effects the virus has like autoimmunity might also disappear.

Chronic hepatitis C virus infection produces a fatiguing disease which has very similar symptoms to ME/CFS (similar enough that it is sometimes misdiagnosed as ME/CFS).

But nowadays the new and powerful antiviral Harvoni can totally eradicate the hepatitis C virus from the body, which then completely cures patients.

If we had an antiviral like DRACO or VTose which could totally eliminate enterovirus or herpesvirus, then we may well find ME/CFS patients are similarly completely cured.
 

Marylib

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Thanks @Hip
I know a biochemist who works for another lab. It's in Auckland, while this one is in Nelson. We've had some interesting discussions on the current state of virology in general, and ME in particular. He feels that we all need to be on ARV's - but we would have to take them for the rest of our lives. I am paraphrasing what he has said, and I certainly don't understand it.

But basically, he says virology is turning toward looking at reverse-transcriptase for every viral infection. Once it gets in, it stays there.

I wish I could be more elucidating, but these days this particular young-ish biochemist mainly seeks me out for advice about dealing with women. Everyone has their own priorities. :)
 

Hipsman

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This is very good news! Does Kimer Med have publicly traded stock?

And then there's the problem of virally infected neurons. Neurons are intrinsically resistant to apoptosis, and for a good reason. If neurons readily underwent apoptosis each time they were infected with a virus, we would be too easily susceptible to brain damage, and the integrity of memories and other stored control algorithms in the brain could be too easily erased. What will DRACO's effect on virally infected neurons be?
Maybe it's possible to exclude some types of cells like neurons from being targeted?
 
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godlovesatrier

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I am of the belief now that if I could get rid of Epstein barr virus from my body my health would improve so that I could deal with a small amount of exercise. Essentially I would go back to how I was before. I've never been super strong physically due to my asthma and probable heart abnormality at birth but even that was enough yo let me exercise and complete 13 mile races.

At any rate I've tweeted about this. Hopefully someone will retweet it.

As for the universal nature of the drug. I cannot believe countries and institutions are still ignoring universal vaccines. That have te ability to future proof the world's population against disease for decades if not centuries. It baffles me to think that one day they will be the norm. Right now we are stuck with single focus vaccines. It's frustrating to see the clock hand of progress March so slowly.

Also 16 years! My god that's a long time. Could be worse I guess. Hope they get funding.
 

godlovesatrier

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One thing I would add. How do we truly know that in ME patients these drugs won't cause a worsening of mito function or body function as seen in some patients? I'm sure I read somewhere that it can cause damage as well? Only for those that don't tolerate them. Which appears to be a small number. I'm considering taking anti virals so would appreciate if anyone has any studies or links on this one. Feel free to PM me
 

Learner1

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any downstream effects the virus has like autoimmunity might also disappear.
This is not likely. Eradicating a virus should stop whatever destructive or resource sucking process that's going on, but it's not likely to miraculously replenish any depleted biochemistry or make autoimmunity go away. Autoimmunity is a series of processes in the immune system, with behaviors of T cells and B cells, cytokines, and damage to tissues. It is possible to work on reversing autoimmunity, repair damage, and dampen the activity of the immune system, but these are other mechanisms, and I doubt that all of this is a part of the activity of this new drug.
 

Hip

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This is not likely.
You might be right. But if we ever get a drug like DRACO or VTose to totally eradicate the viral infections linked to ME/CFS, it would certainly be interesting to see which comorbid conditions also clear up. For example, see if POTS, allergies, MCAS, etc might clear up.

When forum member @carlystar13 with severe ME/CFS went into full remission after a year of taking GcMAF, she reported that all her symptoms vanished, including POTS (which is thought may be autoimmune) and chemical sensitivity.
 

godlovesatrier

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There's also the issue of over stimulation that you and I suffer from Hip. Anything I take daily causes insomnia anxiety racing thoughts etc. Dosing low makes no difference. Anti virals don't quite do that I must admit but I guess it depends on the immune reaction. It makes it hard to dose long term anyway when over stimulation is a huge problem. Not sure why we react that way I know it drives me mad. As I've only recently realised I have this problem with almost everything.
 

Learner1

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For example, see if POTS, allergies, MCAS, etc might clear up.
Exactly by what mechanism will the autoimmune adrenergic, cholonergic, or mascarinic antibodies go away? And for patients with KIT or stem cell factor genetic mutations, exactly how is mast cell disease going to disappear? or any of the other many kinds of antibodies that patients on this site have found, if their doctors have bother to look for them?
 

Hip

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Exactly by what mechanism will the autoimmune adrenergic, cholonergic, or mascarinic antibodies go away?
We know very little about what triggers autoimmunity; it is a poorly understood area. So we don't know the mechanism by which these autoantibodies are triggered, let alone how they might go away. Thus no way to answer that question in any factual way, but we can speculate on possible mechanisms:

In terms of a possible mechanism by which pathogens might trigger autoimmunity, the classic idea is that they could trigger it via molecular mimicry, where a protein on the pathogen is very similar to a protein in the human body, so when the immune system targets that pathogen's protein, it unfortunately also then targets the body itself. So this is one (unproven) theory of what might cause autoimmunity.

But in terms of autoimmunity, one area which has not been sufficiently explored is the extensive immune evasion that all pathogens engage in:

All pathogens use multiple immune evasion techniques to avoid being killed by the immune system: pathogens "hack" into the immune system in order to thwart or inhibit the immune response. Pathogens do this for survival reasons, analogous to the way nations hack into other nation's computer systems, for disruption purposes.

Once you completely remove a pathogen from the body, you also remove the immune evasion "hacking" disruption that it causes. So if this hacking plays a role in creating autoimmunity, then conceivably cessation of the hacking might lead to remission from autoimmunity.



It should also be pointed out that we are not sure if POTS is autoimmune, and even if it is, we do not yet know if the autoantibodies detected in POTS are actually the cause of POTS. It's also thought POTS may have different causes in different subtypes.

Most presumed autoimmune diseases have not been definitely proven autoimmune, incidentally. If you look at this table of suspected autoimmune diseases, you see that in nearly all cases, the evidence for them being autoimmune is weak to moderate. Very few autoimmune diseases are known to be autoimmune for sure.
 

Learner1

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We know very little about what triggers autoimmunity; it is a poorly understood area. So we don't know the mechanism by which these autoantibodies are triggered, let alone how they might go away. Thus no way to answer that question in any factual way, but we can speculate on possible mechanisms:

In terms of a possible mechanism by which pathogens might trigger autoimmunity, the classic idea is that they could trigger it via molecular mimicry, where a protein on the pathogen is very similar to a protein in the human body, so when the immune system targets that pathogen's protein, it unfortunately also then targets the body itself. So this is one (unproven) theory of what might cause autoimmunity.

But in terms of autoimmunity, one area which has not been sufficiently explored is the extensive immune evasion that all pathogens engage in:

All pathogens use multiple immune evasion techniques to avoid being killed by the immune system: pathogens "hack" into the immune system in order to thwart or inhibit the immune response. Pathogens do this for survival reasons, analogous to the way nations hack into other nation's computer systems, for disruption purposes.

Once you completely remove a pathogen from the body, you also remove the immune evasion "hacking" disruption that it causes. So if this hacking plays a role in creating autoimmunity, then conceivably cessation of the hacking might lead to remission from autoimmunity.



It should also be pointed out that we are not sure if POTS is autoimmune, and even if it is, we do not yet know if the autoantibodies detected in POTS are actually the cause of POTS. It's also thought POTS may have different causes in different subtypes.

Most presumed autoimmune diseases have not been definitely proven autoimmune, incidentally. If you look at this table of suspected autoimmune diseases, you see that in nearly all cases, the evidence for them being autoimmune is weak to moderate. Very few autoimmune diseases are known to be autoimmune for sure.
Well if you're so bloody unsure about what causes autoimmunity, whether the autoimmune antibodies found in ME/CFS POTS patients are actually causing their POTS, it sure seems like an enormous leap to expect that some antiviral is going to cure anyone's autoimmunity and make it go away. I've been attending a very detailed class on the immune system taught by a very experienced clinician, and it's various parts and pieces and how they all interact with one another, and it is incredibly complex. There is definitely damage done, and it is highly unlikely it would all magically disappear no matter how much we wish it would or how convenient that would be..
 

JES

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Well if you're so bloody unsure about what causes autoimmunity, whether the autoimmune antibodies found in ME/CFS POTS patients are actually causing their POTS, it sure seems like an enormous leap to expect that some antiviral is going to cure anyone's autoimmunity and make it go away. I've been attending a very detailed class on the immune system taught by a very experienced clinician, and it's various parts and pieces and how they all interact with one another, and it is incredibly complex. There is definitely damage done, and it is highly unlikely it would all magically disappear no matter how much we wish it would or how convenient that would be..
POTS often gets triggered by a viral infection and then sometimes goes away in younger patients. This is exactly what happened to me, after a bad episode in my early 20's I was POTS free for several years until things took a downturn a couple of years ago. There are some anecdotal reports on resolution of MCAS and POTS following treatment protocols, here is one. If I had access to all these treatments I'd be fairly optimistic about my POTS at least improving.
 

Hip

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it sure seems like an enormous leap to expect that some antiviral is going to cure anyone's autoimmunity and make it go away.
If an autoimmune condition like POTS can be triggered by a viral infection, it's not inconceivable that POTS might go into remission if the virus could be removed from the body. Though whether it would is anyone's guess.


It's moot point, however, in terms of whether DRACO or VTose might cure ME/CFS, as there is not much evidence to suggest ME/CFS itself is autoimmune at present, even though it sometimes comes with autoimmune comorbidities.

Treatment with interferon therapy has allowed severe ME/CFS patients to go back to work (see the MEpedia article on interferon), although they tended to relapse several months later, presumably because interferon was unable to completely clear the virus. So this shows the promise of an effective antiviral treatment, if only we could find an antiviral to completely eliminate the virus.