Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory have developed a new antiviral technique for the treatment of a large number of viruses. Currently, most available antiviral therapies are highly specific for one virus, can be ineffective against resistant strains of the virus, or can have adverse effects for the patient. The new technique, called DRACO (Double-stranded RNA [dsRNA] Activated Caspase Oligomerizer), was designed to overcome these limitations.
DRACO selectively triggers apoptosis in cells containing viral dsRNA (double-stranded RNA), rapidly killing infected cells without harming uninfected ones. Consequently, the researchers anticipate DRACO should be effective against virtually all viruses, rapidly terminating a viral infection while minimizing adverse effects to the patient.
The team has already published initial results in the journal PLoS ONE showing the effectiveness of DRACO against 15 types of viruses. DRACO was not only demonstrated to be non-toxic in mice but was also shown to save mice infected with a lethal dose of H1N1 influenza. Currently the team is testing the technique on additional viruses in mice.
This technology could potentially revolutionize antiviral therapies in the future and it will be interesting to see how this promising technology will progress from these impressive initial results.
Full article in PLoS ONE: Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics