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Universal Antivirus Medicine From MIT! August 17, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
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This is truly exciting news, truly. In their July 27 paper1 in the journal PLoS One, researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory tested their novel drug against fifteen viruses, and found it was effective against all of them.  The tested viruses included common cold, H1N1 influenza, stomach virus, polio, dengue fever and (other) hemorrhagic fevers.  Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist in Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group who invented the new technology explains that it works by signaling virus-infected cells to commit suicide, breaking the virus’ reproductive chain.

Rider and his crew assembled Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers (DRACOs), which activate the cell-signaling suicide in the presence of the double-stranded RNA that viruses use to reproduce themselves (mammals don’t use double-stranded RNA anywhere in normal metabolism).  They also attached a set of proteins that allow the DRACOs to enter and leave a cell.  With no double-stranded RNA to set the DRACOs off, they leave the cell and enter another.

Besides the stunning technical achievement of assembling this drug, I’m impressed as hell that Rider could even come up with the idea for it.  I’m sure the Nobel committee will notice this little trick one of these days.

1 Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics, by Todd H. Rider, Christina E. Zook, Tara L. Boettcher, Scott T. Wick, Jennifer S. Pancoast, Benjamin D. Zusman of the Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lexington, Massachusetts, United States of America

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