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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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  • What's a virus? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:18PM (#37048412)

    So does a false positive mean you're dead?

    Drug: Must find viruses. Oh, there's one...I think. And that one too. Oooh, actually, they're ALL viruses!

  • Todd Rider (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:27PM (#37048566) Homepage Journal

    Also the man who has so far explained why inertial-confinement fusion can't work []. Maybe.

    I knew he was involved in medical research, but this is pretty awesome.

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:30PM (#37048628) Homepage

    That would actually be my worry. Enough people already take drugs when they have the slight discomfort or to cure their flu (despite anti-bacterials having no effect on the flu). What's going to happen when they can take a drug for all that stuff? At the rate we use drugs, it seems like this one would be burned out and ineffective pretty fast unless the government really restricts it (more the Cipro or other other drugs that are left).

    The idea of bugs that become resistant to all this stuff, or a drug that people can't stop taking because of horrible side effects... that sounds like great news. Can we please be careful not to invent/breed ourselves into a pseduo-Descolada []?

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:33PM (#37048662) Homepage Journal
    The hell with all of this.

    Just come up with a cure for we can all get laid again without worrying or feeling guilty about screwing without a fuckin' rubber.....

    Geez, the day they cure AIDS, I'm predicting the divorce rate will skyrocket with a ton of guys going "Later Bitch"....and not having to worry about dying if they get laid by someone different.

    Oh well....sure would be nice to go back to the days before AID's..when you really didn't worry as long as she was on the pill, and anything you caught for the most part...could be cured with a quick shot.

  • Re:What's a virus? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:40PM (#37048776)
    I'd be more concerned if it treats cells infected with a latent virus in the fashion described here, to be honest.

    For instance, lets assume Alzheimer's is caused (as suspected) by a combination of a defective APoE gene and an HSV1 infection. So if the vast majority of brain cells are infected but the brain is (more or less) still highly functional... wouldn't this theoretically kill every one of those brain cells, essentially advancing alzheimer's itself many-fold in a matter of weeks?
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @05:27PM (#37049416) Homepage

    I wonder, though, where a treatment like this leaves the human immune system.

    A vaccine spurs the immune system to generate antibodies, so that when we're actually infected by the virus, the antibodies are available to combat it. Our own immune systems do all the work.

    This new type of treatment, however, kills off the cells that have been infected by viruses, so the viruses aren't able to use the cell's materials to replicate. As the cells die, so do the viruses. From the sound of it, the treatment achieves this without any assistance from the immune system.

    So to put it bluntly, in a world where everybody pops a few anti-flu pills every time they get a little sniffle, what does the human immune system do all day? I can see two possible outcomes:

    1. 1. Humans mature with improperly-tuned immune systems that overreact to fairly minor variations, resulting in an increased instance of allergies and autoimmune diseases. (We seem to already be seeing some of this now, with the overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial agents in soaps etc.)
    2. 2. If the side effects of #1 are sufficiently bad for humans, it seems logical that over time, nature will select for people who have weaker overall immune systems. Can that be good?
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @06:58PM (#37050346)
    But Viruses must change the host cell. They do so to procreate. If they didn't, they would die. Once the virus enters a cell, that cell is going to die. The only difference is whether the cell can be killed quickly before replication, or whether it dies because it made so many virus copies it exploded. This drug apparently attacks cells infected, so the cell is much more likely to die before it has replicated massive numbers of the viruses. That isn't an attack on the virus. That's an attack on the host. So the virus will have little mechanism to evolve out of that, hopefully extending the time this treatment is effective such that global application of this drug (even among the "healthy" who could be carriers or incubating something) could wipe out nearly all viral infections. Every June, everyone in the planet takes 4 weeks of anti-virals, and 10 years later, there are no human-only strains of viruses (the only ones left being ones that can be transferred cross-species, in which case we can address it in the host species via drugs or genocide and cure humans of all viruses. Can we even imagine a world with no viruses?

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman