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Biotech Science

New Drug Could Cure Nearly Any Viral Infection 414

HardYakka writes "A team of researchers at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory have designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection. The researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever."
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New Drug Could Cure Nearly Any Viral Infection

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  • HIV? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmistressrachel ( 903577 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:15PM (#37048376) Journal

    Any news on HIV / AIDS? Strange that that isn't the first virus threw into the petri dish with this stuff, to be honest.

  • Not sufficent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:21PM (#37048468)
    For a drug that cures any virus to work, it has to work in a manner that keeps the profits up for big pharma and the medical industry in general. If it doesn't do that, you can't have it.
  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:31PM (#37048646) Journal

    While there are a few 10k virus forms known and the total number of "variations" goes into the dozens of millions?

    Sounds like a plan for disaster and not like a cure.

  • Re:HIV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:44PM (#37048832)

    So you take the person into a clean room, administer the drug, wait a few weeks for their immune system to grow back (possibly from transplant or stem cell therapy), and they walk out cured. Not a bad deal.

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:55PM (#37049014)

    How useful is Penicillin these days?

    still fairly useful.Not as useful as it used to be but still good.

    How much worse is MRSA compared to the weaker infections that people used to get?

    no worse. it's just that we've become so accustomed to antibiotics working insanely well that when a handful of bugs become resistant they seem far scarier than their ancestors despite being no more deadly.

    It's hard to comprehend how deadly bacterial infections were before Penicillin. Getting just a taste of it in the form of MRSA only seems scarier relative to how thing have been since penicillin.

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @05:02PM (#37049130)

    the thing is that looking into the way that it works: it's hard to see any straightforward way for most of these viruses to evolve a resistance.

    It targets dsRNA which is very central to their life cycle.

    it's the difference between an animal evolving a resistance to a poison and evolving a resistance to having it's internal organs ripped out.

  • Re:HIV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @05:14PM (#37049268) Homepage Journal

    There's a rather big difference between T-cells, which is what HIV infects, and "the whole human."

    I agree; at most you'd likely have to stick the person into an isolation area as the die-off of T-Cells blows an HIV infection into an advanced case of AIDS in a matter of hours. Of course, once HIV is purged T-Cells would quickly return to normal levels, probably a couple weeks.

  • Re:HIV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @07:21PM (#37050562)

    Bone marrow constantly builds new immune cells. Patients kept in total quarantine will survive when no other diseases can reach them until their immune system is built up again. Problem solved.

    Procedure is used for a Leukemia and other diseases, so there exists medical experience on it.

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @08:39PM (#37051262)

    The stupidity of it all is that MRSA is not necessary and can be prevented.

    While I agree with you that overuse of antibiotics for trivial purposes has sped up the development of resistant strains, I think you're overstating it. The tone of your post suggests you blame MRSA entirely on factory farming and physician incompetence/laziness, which simply isn't the case.

    To begin with, there are two more or less unavoidable problems that lead to the development of resistant strains. The first is that people prescribed antibiotics for actual bacterial infections often stop taking them when the symptoms abate, rather than taking the full course. The second is that hospitals are breeding grounds for resistant infections. Even a well managed hospital isn't completely safe.

    Now, you can reduce those problems with public education and changes to hospital policies, but you can't eliminate the threat, which brings us to the larger issue; resistant strains are inevitable. In a perfect world, where no antibiotics were misused and all hospitals were entirely sterile, there would still arise antibiotic resistant bacteria over time. Basic evolution in action.

    So no, MRSA and it's kin cannot be prevented, they can merely be reduced in prevalence.

    Now, obviously new treatments can be devised to try and shift our antibacterial measures as the bacteria adapt; in particular if we retire treatments that have become ineffective, the strains resistant to those drugs might die out from competition, allowing us to revive "useless" antibiotics decades or more in the future.

    Doing what you suggest - essentially banning antibiotic misuse - is still a good idea, but without the other solutions mentioned above, it's just a delaying tactic.

  • Re:HIV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @09:01PM (#37051410) Homepage

    So you take the person into a clean room, administer the drug, wait a few weeks for their immune system to grow back (possibly from transplant or stem cell therapy), and they walk out cured. Not a bad deal.

    Yes it would have to be a transplant or stem cell therapy since HIV infects the bone marrow which produces blood and immune cells, and so would necessarily have to be killed.

    There are many possible problems and complications from a bone marrow transplant. Stem cell therapy would get rid of the greatest one, the rejection of non-closely matched marrow, but many would remain. Without that therapy, it would be very dangerous to use this route in the majority of cases where close matches can't be found. Leukemia patients won't undergo a transplant in the absence of a close match until the leukemia is about to go into the acute phase and kill them.

    A bone marrow transplant has already been used to cure AIDS. But it is not clear that this is the best choice if you have access to modern AIDS drugs.

  • Re:HIV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @09:32PM (#37051606)

    It wouldn't necessarily have to be either one, if the drug is targeted enough and the body can recover. Assuming the drug only kills infected cells, and has a 100% kill rate, it's likely it would leave some cells intact that hadn't been infected. Not enough to support normal immune response on their own, but perhaps enough to regrow the rest naturally.

    This of course is wild speculation; we wouldn't know until we try. The main point is still that if you can kill (just) the infected cells fairly easily, you are well on your way to designing a treatment. It may not be simple, and it may not be cheap, but you should have options.

Programmers do it bit by bit.