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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 19 June 2021

Superdrug could cure all viral infections

US researchers say they’ve developed a drug that could cure the common cold, ‘flu and other ailments not affected by antibiotics.

Bacteria used for producing malaria anti-bodies, seen through a microscope
Bacteria used for producing malaria anti-bodies, seen through a microscope
Image: Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images

SCIENTISTS AT MIT in the US claim to have solved the problem of killing viral infections usually resistant to antibiotics.

The ‘flu, the common cold, and more serious haemorrhagic fevers – like Ebola – are amongst the viruses that currently can’t be cured.

A new drug called DRACO designed by the US scientists is able to identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then zeroes to kill the infection, writes MIT News. It should work against all viruses and has already proven effective against 15 viruses, including polio, dengue fever and a stomach virus.

MIT’s Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers (DRACO) is an anti-viral therapy, that causes cells to commit  suicide, thus preventing the spread of infection.

Time Magazine explains that the drug works by using both a cell’s natural defence mechanism, and the virus’s attack mechanism. In this way it is able to find and disable the virus.

It’s thought the new technology might even work against new infections, like respiratory syndrome SARS, which caused a near-pandemic in 2002/2003.

Popular Science says the new treatment could be as effective as antibiotics fighting bacteria – a development that could revolutionise infectious disease medicine.

All of the testing has so far been carried out in mice, but the scientists behind DRACO are hoping to be licensed for trials in larger animals, and eventually in humans.

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