Pharmaceutical International News - August 2011
MIT’s DRACO Drug Could Kill Nearly All Viruses
Posted by Pharmaceutical International's Drug Development Correspondent on 10/08/2011 - 16:00:00
US researchers have developed a single drug with the potential to treat almost all viral infection types, including common colds and influenza.
Pioneered at MIT, the drug could change current viral treatment methods and it's already been proven as an effective nullifier of 15 different virus types.
Penicillin and other antibiotics are a standard bacterial treatment approach but have little effect in tackling common colds, flu and other viruses. The new MIT drug, named DRACO (Double-stranded RNA-Activated Caspase Oligomerizer) targets infected cells and kills them, specifically working only on one particular RNA found in them.
This double-stranded RNA is essentially like a tag, attached to signify the presence of infection.
MIT DRACO Drug
"DRACO has the potential to revolutionize the treatment and prevention of virtually all viral diseases, including everything from the common cold to Ebola", Doctor Todd Rider, who established and leads the MIT DRACO drug research team, explained.
"Because the antiviral activity of DRACO is so broad-spectrum, we hope that it may even be useful against outbreaks of new or mutated viruses, such as the 2003 SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] outbreak."
DRACO is a selectively-targeting drug, in the sense it focuses solely on cells harbouring the virus, leaving healthy tissue in the area safe from significant harm.
MIT's all-virus drug development programme has been funded by several sources, including the New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Earlier funding was supplied by other organisations including the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Doctor Rider headed a team comprised of five other experts and details of the research appear in the PLoS One publication.
This all-virus drug research remains at an early stage but has already involved mouse-based trials. For the future, tests involving larger animals are forecast, ultimately followed by clinical trials with human participants.
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