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New Drug, DRACO, Could Kill All Viruses

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A paper was published in July of 2011 by researchers from MIT that reports successful tests regarding mice and a new drug that could cure all types of viruses. The drug that was tested is known as DRACO, which is short for Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer. The drug operates as a broad-spectrum antivirus, hopefully killing cells that have been captured by viruses in the body. The drug targets RNA that is double-stranded and produced in the reproduction process of the virus. The paper said that the drug was successful against all 15 of the viruses it was tested against “including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever,” according to Process.org.

DRACO is just one drug that is being developed and tested as a part of a larger project known as PANACEA, which stands for Pharmacological Augmentation of Nonspecific Anti-pathogen Cellular Enzymes and Activities. The project is spearheaded by Doctor Todd Rider, who is the senior staff scientist at MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological and Nanoscale Technologies Group.

  
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The drug is designed to detect long double-stranded RNA. The research team has created chimeric proteins. One of the proteins will find the RNA and the other will cause cell suicide in order to kill the virus inside the body. The main goal of the drug is that it should be able to enter each cell within the body and kill the virus if it detects something. If nothing is detected, then the drug will not do anything to your body at all. Should a virus be found by the drug, the back ends of the drug will be activated, which causes cells to die and then in turn kill the infection in the body. The drug can work with both RNA and DNA viruses. The drug has been tested on a handful of virus families to date but there are still thousands of viruses to test yet.

Rider made it clear that the researchers are still quite a ways away from testing the drug on humans despite the large amount of successful tests in mice. MIT is hoping to license the drug to a pharmaceutical company so the testing could be done on larger animals. For the most part, the FDA needs to see research involving plenty of mouse trials followed by a lot of trials that take place in rabbits and guinea pigs and then monkeys before trials can be conducted in humans. Rider thinks that it could be close to a decade before the drug could be available for humans to use.

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