New drug could cure nearly any viral infection

By Anne Trafton

Most bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, discovered decades ago. However, such drugs are useless against viral infections, including influenza, the common cold, and deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

Now, in a development that could transform how are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.

In a paper published July 27 in the journal PLoS One, 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.

The drug works by targeting a type of RNA produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses. “In theory, it should work against all viruses,” says Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist in Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group who invented the new technology.

Because the technology is so broad-spectrum, it could potentially also be used to combat outbreaks of new viruses, such as the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, Rider says.

Other members of the research team are Lincoln Lab staff members Scott Wick, Christina Zook, Tara Boettcher, Jennifer Pancoast and Benjamin Zusman.

Few antivirals available

Rider had the idea to try developing a broad-spectrum antiviral therapy about 11 years ago, after inventing CANARY (Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields), a biosensor that can rapidly identify pathogens. “If you detect a pathogenic bacterium in the environment, there is probably an antibiotic that could be used to treat someone exposed to that, but I realized there are very few treatments out there for viruses,” he says.

There are a handful of drugs that combat specific viruses, such as the protease inhibitors used to control HIV infection, but these are relatively few in number and susceptible to viral resistance. 

Rider drew inspiration for his therapeutic agents, dubbed DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), from living cells’ own defense systems.

When viruses infect a cell, they take over its cellular machinery for their own purpose — that is, creating more copies of the virus. During this process, the viruses create long strings of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which is not found in human or other animal cells.

As part of their natural defenses against viral infection, human cells have proteins that latch onto dsRNA, setting off a cascade of reactions that prevents the virus from replicating itself. However, many viruses can outsmart that system by blocking one of the steps further down the cascade.

Rider had the idea to combine a dsRNA-binding protein with another protein that induces cells to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell suicide) — launched, for example, when a cell determines it is en route to becoming cancerous. Therefore, when one end of the DRACO binds to dsRNA, it signals the other end of the DRACO to initiate cell suicide.

Combining those two elements is a “great idea” and a very novel approach, says Karla Kirkegaard, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University. “Viruses are pretty good at developing resistance to things we try against them, but in this case, it’s hard to think of a simple pathway to resistance,” she says.

Each DRACO also includes a “delivery tag,” taken from naturally occurring proteins, that allows it to cross cell membranes and enter any human or animal cell. However, if no dsRNA is present, DRACO leaves the cell unharmed.

Most of the tests reported in this study were done in human and animal cells cultured in the lab, but the researchers also tested DRACO in mice infected with the H1N1 virus. When mice were treated with DRACO, they were completely cured of the infection. The tests also showed that DRACO itself is not toxic to mice.

The researchers are now testing DRACO against more in mice and beginning to get promising results. Rider says he hopes to license the technology for trials in larger animals and for eventual human clinical trials.

More information: Rider TH, et al. (2011) Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22572. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022572

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fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
Sounds promising, I would worry a bit about killing off more then anticipated. "good bacteria" are common knowledge now, but not until we started using large doses of broad spectrum antibiotics. It would not surprise me at all if there were a class of "good viruses" that this drug might unintentionally target.

That said, Best of luck in your trials! If this pans out as anticipated, many lives will be saved.
Techno1
2 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2011
Ok, after clinicals...

Couldn't you simply mass produce this drug and give it to everyone on earth for a few weeks, and thereby terminate almost all pathogenic viruses...similar to polio and smallpox?

There might be a some strains of flu, cowpox, and monkey pox that would re-mutate to infect humans over many years, decades, centuries...but come on...

In the case of the Flu, you could even stop most of that by treating the swine and birds with this drug...

Flu would go almost completely extinct...

They would also need to preserve samples of all of these viruses for laboratory use, in case any "nanotechnology" relevant discoveries could be made from them.

If you had a CURE for common cold, flu, dengue, and stomache virus, primary care physicians would be out of a job...

Man

Would this work on Herpes strains?

Chicken pox and shingles (H. Varicella Zoster)
The STDs
The non-STD oral canker sores (my sister gets this very bad).

This is incredible.
Techno1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
This is really huge.

This is instant Nobel Prize, unless Rossi's cold fusion claim is true.

This may even beat Rossi even if Rossi is telling the truth.

Yeah, this is that big, I should think.

Guess we know who the "real" McCoy is...

http://www.youtub...=related

Coming...
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
...Couldn't you simply mass produce this drug and give it to everyone on earth for a few weeks, and thereby terminate almost all pathogenic viruses....
......

Would this work on Herpes strains?

Chicken pox and shingles.....


The salient question here is, what could possibly go wrong?

With a drug that wipes out so much, I suspect that finding out all the thing that could go wrong will take a lot of time, money and complicated research..

Still, this is fantastic news. Nothing remotely this promising has ever been announced about the fight against viral infections.

Nobel prize? If this pans out, just give this guy every prize you can find.
Temple
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
Being able to biochemically target only those cells that are affected by a virus would be epochal to say the least.

As if being able to cure any viral-based disease weren't exciting enough, imagine the potential future uses of such technology...

I imagine the possibility of using custom virii as a new type of treatment for disease, similar in practice if not mechanic to antibodies.

Eventually, we could create new, benevolent and non-contagious virii which perhaps could target specific cells afflicted with cancers and other non-virus specific ailments, perhaps even targeting specific anti-bacterial resistant bacteria themselves. Then once these cells had been 'marked' with the new virus, they could be killed with that specific anti-virus.

That's just one potential application of the ability to target cells so specifically. The mind gallops headlong into fields newly discovered.
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
This is really huge.

This is instant Nobel Prize, unless Rossi's cold fusion claim is true.

This may even beat Rossi even if Rossi is telling the truth.

Yeah, this is that big, I should think.

Guess we know who the "real" McCoy is...

http://www.youtub...=related

Coming...

There is no competition. The prizes would be in different areas. They both could win.
wiyosaya
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
I agree this could be big; however, in my mind one of the questions surrounding this is how much will it cost - will it only be for the rich?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
Couldn't you simply mass produce this drug and give it to everyone on earth for a few weeks, and thereby terminate almost all pathogenic viruses

Probably not because (many) viruse can survive outside the host quie wll (though they can't multiply). Once the dosage wears off you're as susceptible to getting the flu as you were before.

But for treatment this could be huge. Should go straight to phase I trials.

(On the other hand I could envision a horrific two component biological weapon made out of this. )
riplox
1.8 / 5 (8) Aug 10, 2011
I know it's not P.C. to talk about it, but I think I need to say something in this case. The reason lots of these viruses and other potentially fatal natural things, like disease, is population control, and if we keep on this trend of trying to cure all of what ails us, out population is going to skyrocket and cause many more problems. We're quickly closing the gap to where there are too many people on the planet, and there isn't enough to provide for them all.

People seem to have such an aversion to death that they will do whatever they can to avoid it, though, we evolved with species preservation and community in mind, so it's only natural. We try and produce cures and fixes for all sorts of things and it just allows the ones that would have died off to stay around. We've advanced far quicker technologically and socially than we have evolutionarily, and it's causing issues.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
The reason lots of these viruses and other potentially fatal natural things, like disease, is population control, and if we keep on this trend of trying to cure all of what ails us, out population is going to skyrocket and cause many more problems.


And you would refuse such medication (or any medication at all) because of this belief? No?

It's all intellectual to talk about other people as if they were statistics - but to any one of them their life is as precious to them as yours is to you.
Techno1
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 10, 2011
Antialias:

I read the paper.

The DRACO stays in the cells for 8 days, which is longer than the incubation cycle of many viruses.

So you could probably have everyone on earth take 1 dose per week, or 1 dose per four days for a month, and viola, almost all the nasties would be toast...

Maybe I'm overly idealistic, but we can always hope...

There's always going to be weird situations where the virus survives somehow in a jar somewhere, like in an episode of "House", but the beauty of it is that as soon as it's detected again, you just give all the infectees and their contacts another pill regiment...

A targetted approach towards only known infectees makes sense in the short term, but eventually, it makes sense to try to irradicate most of these viruses.
Techno1
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
Riplox:

More brains = more problem solving.

Anyway, new food production technologies, including genetics, nanotech, and hydroponics is going to continue to supply more and more food using fewer resources. Already, corn farmers get nearly double the yield per acre they did a few decades ago. Hydroponics can theoretically get annual corn yields to around 6 times present levels per unit area, and use less water and nutrients in the process, not even counting that you could raise food on multi-storied buildings.

It's true that you can't cure evil, and you generally can't cure stupid, but your view of the future of humanity is pretty bleak and depressing...
Techno1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
Riplox:

You um, also realize this (and this is a stretch, admittedly, but none-the-less logical,) this might be adapted to fight plant viruses?

you also realize, extending "Temple"s suggestion above, you could engineer benovolent viruses to infect bacteria and fungi which are pathogens in plants, and then apply a spraying mist to deliver the DRACO (or something like it), which would destroy the infected bacteria or fungi?

And IF this extension of the discovery is possible, it would eliminate most non-drought-related famines, and possibly even alleviate some drought-related famines...

Much of crop loss is already from "minor" blights and plagues that go un-noticed by local farmers.

Even if it can't be adapted to plants, the treatment of bird and cattle diseases would increase food production significantly.

Imagine how much more poultry there would be available if not for all the culling required from bird flu, plus the offspring they would have made!!!
riplox
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
And you would refuse such medication (or any medication at all) because of this belief? No?


If getting treatment for something that is affecting me, like cancer or leukemia, that needs rigorous treatment and is expensive, I'd most likely be willing to just die from it. My family and I certainly don't have enough money for treating something of that magnitude and I wouldn't want to put them through that. The cost of the treatment alone would devastate us and I don't value my life enough to ruin the lives of others. Yes, they'll be sad for a while, but they would move on. Death is a part of life and people need to learn to accept it. However, if treatment was inexpensive and not grievous, I would certainly take it.
emsquared
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
More brains = more problem solving.

Being a relative humanist, I too find the "we need more people to die" philosophy a little depressing too. As applied here and to environmental policy. At the same time, envisioning the future of earth to be something like Coruscant is pretty depressing to me as well.

Ultimately, the cost and logistics of getting the drug to "every person on earth" pre-empts it's feasibility. Not only the production cost and time, but the transport and proper administration make the "erradicate all viral disease" vision unrealistic. Unfortunately, money is the future (present?) "natural control mechanism".
Techno1
1.3 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
"Ultimately, the cost and logistics of getting the drug to "every person on earth" pre-empts it's feasibility. Not only the production cost and time, but the transport and proper administration make the "erradicate all viral disease" vision unrealistic"

This was already done in the past with Smallpox, before internet or "contemporary" modern computers even existed, before Apple or Microsoft, before the Space Shuttle...

http://en.wikiped..._vaccine

The logistics of this should be a cake-walk in the modern world, by comparison.

For the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Russia, and Japan, all you'd need to do, if it can be administered as a pill, is distribute it to your local pharmacy and have everyone come buy it...

In Africa and South America it would be far more difficult, but I don't think nearly as difficult as Smallpox in 1977...
emsquared
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2011
In Africa and South America it would be far more difficult, but I don't think nearly as difficult as Smallpox in 1977...

You forgot Asia in that list (you know, the most populous nations in the world?).

C'mon, Techno, let's be academically honest here. Smallpox was cured by a /vaccine/ over the process of a 100 year campaign, it didn't matter if everyone was on it at the same time, you just had to get it out there "eventually".

What you envision would require a global coordination the likes of which has never ever been close to attempted much less accomplished, and arguably is not able to be accomplished.

Plus, think of the ramifications if you thought you had all virus' wiped out, then a couple generations later got hit with some hidden, emergent virus or species-jumper to which your body hadn't the slightest defense too? For some nasty things this is great, but trying to sterilize the planet is a little silly. What doesn't kill you does make you stronger.
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
Finally, a cure for the common cold! This is why I read this newsletter. Its hard to imagine a more profound discovery (if it is both real and doesn't have horrible side effects).
antonima
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
"Ultimately, the cost and logistics of getting the drug to "every person on earth" pre-empts it's feasibility. Not only the production cost and time, but the transport and proper administration make the "erradicate all viral disease" vision unrealistic"

This was already done in the past with Smallpox, before internet or "contemporary" modern computers even existed, before Apple or Microsoft, before the Space Shuttle...


That is a great example. Smallpox has effectively been eradicated! However I am skeptical as to curing all virus illnesses, that sounds a bit extreme. It is good practice in medicine to only prescribe drugs when there is an illness.
Techno1
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
Emsquared:

Cell phones:
http://reviews.cn...-78.html

That's about 3 or 4 per average family, depending on where you are in the world...

That's not simply distributing, that's networking and using regularly...

Distributing a pill or a shot is peanuts compared to this.

In fact, the cellphones and smartphones would make the logistics of the DRACO "cure" that much easier.

Governments and pharmacies could partner with IT and Cell phone companies to spam ads on their phones via text message once per day for like a month.

"Get the cure today! Visit your pharmacy! DRACO cures everything! Buy it today..."

Job done in 5/7ths of the population...
emsquared
1 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2011
Cell phones:
http://reviews.cn...-78.html

Nevermind that you're ignoring a significant number of people who own more than one cell phone, who's going to pay for this global public health campaign? The production, advertising, transport, administration and coordination?

I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, it'd be beautiful if that could happen, but I'm being a realist. The logistics all but negate it's viability.
Eric_B
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
This could also be used to terminate an aggressive THERAPEUTIC virus.

Take the other article from today about how brain cells are renewed...
http://medicalxpr...ead.html

If viruses could be engineered to make brain cells grow by influencing the cells (other than neurons) in injured areas, this substance could be used to turn them off.
Techno1
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2011
emsquared:

You're out of touch man.

Do you even realize how many production companies are already distributing to nearly every square mile of land on the face of the earth (excluding antarctica)?

There's a McDonalds EVERYWHERE and they are building 10,000 more of them in China alone over the next few years.

I used to work in a production facility that single handedly made ALL of the HDPE plastic coffee cans for Folgers, which replaced the metal ones, for the entire world, it's right down the street...

This degree of logistics is child's play, and yet you seem to think it's an impossible thing.

Do you have any idea how much cargo fits on one container ship? They move 9000 of 20ft containers on ONE SHIP every day like it's a small thing now...and soon to have 12000 to 14000 containers on the newest class of ships.
Y8Q412VBZP21010
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
... who's going to pay for this global public health campaign? The production, advertising, transport, administration and coordination?


Do you have any idea of how much money is being pumped into global health efforts by outfits like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Such an effort is perfectly doable. The only question is how it fits into the priority queue of other deserving health initiatives.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, it'd be beautiful if that could happen, but I'm being a realist. The logistics all but negate it's viability.
Techno1
2 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2011
Do you realize one top-of-the-line Intel server and a "few" smart phones is all you need to do the records keeping for the "logistics" of this project?

Do you realize the computing power used by this website and it's affiilated forums barely even registers compared to the world wide "Battle.net" network that Blizzard-Activision uses for multi-player GAMES?

You think distributing a pill or a shot is impossible to the u.s. government and the U.N., yet a TINY entertainment company can handle a task only about an order of magnitude smaller?

The government doesn't even literally need to go find every person, because the people will come to the distribution centers.

This is so easy a cave man can do it.

Wal Mart anyone? Damn, they're everywhere already too, and they have a pharmacy.

Walgreens is everywhere too.

Anybody else want to say the logistics is too hard for the U.S. and U.N. when any half decent modern corporation could do this easily, as a damn afterthought?
Techno1
2 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2011
Nevermind that you're ignoring a significant number of people who own more than one cell phone, who's going to pay for this global public health campaign? The production, advertising, transport, administration and coordination?


The savings to AMERICANS in social security, medicaid, and medicare costs would pay for the entire WORLD WIDE operation in less than one month. The long terms economic savings of the operation would be worth hundreds of trillions of dollars to Americans alone, nevermind everyone else.

The quesiton is, who WOULDN'T pay for it? Only someone who has something to gain by everyone else being sick...

As stated, administration, coordination, and records keeping is easy. One top Intel server plus some smart phones is all you need, along with cooperation from a handful of super centers and pharmacy chains.

Advertisement would cost nothing. FOX News and CNN cover everything every politician says anyway. A simple public announcement and viola...
Moebius
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
Viruses are pretty good at developing resistance to things we try against them, but in this case, its hard to think of a simple pathway to drug resistance, she says.


Unfortunately a virus doesn't have to think, it will find a way, simple or otherwise. If they do though it sounds like this technique can be easily and quickly modified to deal with drug resistance which is much more than can be said for normal drug resistance. Most likely they will stop producing the RNA tag and produce another that can be targeted.
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
You don't seem to pay attention much, and you don't seem to comprehend what we are already capable of and doing all the time on a daily basis.

go walk in a Wal Mart or any other major chain of a department store, grocery, pharmacy, fast food, etc.

They peform this logistical feat a thousand times per day, easily, as part of normal operation. Where the hell do you think all the products in Wal Mart (or JCPenny or Dillards, etc,) comes from?

Production facility ships it to the distribution center
there may be an extra step if actual "ships" are involved, at a port...

It goes from distribution center to the "store" where you buy it.

Wow. 3 layers of complexity. A corporate office, a district office, a store manager, a warehouse/distribution center, a few truck drivers per store, etc.

They handle ten thousand different products and re-order daily as they run out.

My God dude, you're clueless.

Most of this stuff gets printed out of a machine by the millions...
Techno1
1 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
And by "printed out of a machine by the millions" I mean millions per day to millions per week, depending on the product.

Here we are on a technology and medicine forum, and you don't even comprehend what's been going on for 30 years or more...

We have smart phones that make a $2000 windows 95 era pc look like a piece of garbage, and all most people do with it is make telephone calls and play games...

Does anyone comprehend what Smartphones are capable of? Or is it just another game to be "consumed" by fools in the Capitalistic, consumer economy?

For some reason, I'm thinking about Jim Carrey as the "Riddler" in Batman 3 movie.

"Does anyone else's brain feel like a fried egg?!" - Riddler.

We have fricken God-like computer and communication technology, and most people can't even figure out what else to do with it besides play games, but you think we can't even ship a pill or a shot around the world...my God...

Medievalism?
Moebius
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2011
For some reason, I'm thinking about Jim Carrey as the "Riddler" in Batman 3 movie.

smek!
"You cured my lisp."
smek!
"bathturd"
Techno1
1 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
I mean seriously...

We're on a site that deals in cutting edge in nanotech, medicine, genetics, and computers, and discusses things eventually pertaining to the most fantastic technologies imaginable, from teh very tiny to the very large, but it's "too expensive" to give a pill to everyone...

LOL...

McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's could put this in like half the people's food in a few days, and nobody would even realize it until they all suddenly stopped getting sick...

So hard to ship a pill...I mean, not like the fast food chains ship like, I don't know, a billion half-pound sandwiches around the world every day, and God only knows how much fried chickens...

But a pill that weighs a few grams, with only a few milligram of active ingredient, nooo, no way they could do that. That's too complicated...
mattytheory
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
Since cancer is related to malfunctioning cellular machinery could this be adapted as a therapy for cancers too?
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2011
I hope that this does eventually become mainstreamed, and used worldwide. The world needs a powerful antiviral drug. What are the possibilities that this could also eventually treat HIV? A virus that kills millions every year. The fact that we might finally have a cure for Influenza and the common cold... I mean, just wow.
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2011
Since cancer is related to malfunctioning cellular machinery could this be adapted as a therapy for cancers too?


In some cases, almost certainly.

Several cancers are actually caused by viral infections and/or strongly associated with specific viral infections.

However, certainly it wouldn't always be possible.

Some cancers are caused by mutations which are similar from person to person, but not quite the same. They may have in common that a change occured in one specific gene or group of genes, but exactly what that change was will vary from patient to patient: it could be an error of replication, ommission, transposition, or replacement, and it can vary in size and location on the gene.

This is why many cancers are so hard to treat. It's why the $90,000 "vaccine" for prostate cancer costs so much, and must be customized on a per-patient basis.

Unfortunately, we're going to need something a little more than these DRACOs to fight that type of disease...
macsglen
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
As to the logistics of this project, am I the only one here who remembers Sabin Oral Sunday? And that was in 1960 . . . all we have to do first is figure out if the stuff works (without Unintended Consequences, that is).
cyberCMDR
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
Given that one of the big problems in eradicating HIV in someone is eliminating it from cells the virus is "hiding" in, if this can make those cells go 'poof', then HIV is curable.
ConcernedCitizen
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
I'm surprized that no one has commented on the ability to trigger cell apoptosis. Hate to think that someone might try to weaponize this. Think White Plague by Frank Herbert.
hjbasutu
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
Did they test their drug against HIV...?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2011
The cost of the treatment alone would devastate us and I don't value my life enough to ruin the lives of others.

Oops..I didn't know you lived in a country like that. I assumed you were from a first world country where there is some form of medical insurance for the citizens.

Ryan1981
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
Didn't read all the replies but the first thing that came to my mind is what if this cure mutates and starts attacking the wrong cells?
Ojorf
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Didn't read all the replies but the first thing that came to my mind is what if this cure mutates and starts attacking the wrong cells?


It does not 'attack' cells, it binds with viral dsRNA, and if more than one DRACO cross-links to the same dsRNA it induces apoptosis in the cell (causing it to suicide). It also does not replicate, so cannot mutate.
LivaN
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
riplox
The reason [..] fatal natural things [..] population control [..] there isn't enough to provide for them all.


This type of reasoning disgusts me. Avoid preserving life because of problem x. Sorry my friend but I value life, not just mine but all life, far more than I value any other problem we face. Rather than see the opportunity here, you point out the downfall. Rather than find a workable solution, you give up, because the problem is large and it is far easier to die than meet it head on. Sad really.

We try and produce cures and fixes for all sorts of things and it just allows the ones that would have died off to stay around.


It amazes me how worthless you consider life to be.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
This type of reasoning disgusts me. Avoid preserving life because of problem x. Sorry my friend but I value life, not just mine but all life, far more than I value any other problem we face.

While I agree with your sentiment putting an unqualified value on life is also detrimental. Having a stable/sustainable amount of people alive is a good idea. Regulating that number via withholding cures or stopping medical advances is not.

Countries where the sztandard of living is high for the mahority of citizens tend to find a balanced population growth (or even decline). The approach to a stable, global population should be to provide such a standard of living -and education- to all so that having many children is no longer seen as a necessary safety net or the sign of godly favor.
zaqaz
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
WOW this is incredible!!!

Lets say this works. We eradicate viral infections almost completely. How would this affect our immune systems in the long run, say 300 years?
LivaN
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
riplox
Death is a part of life and people need to learn to accept it.

This would be fine if there were no way to avoid death. Technology and information hints that we may one day be able to become immortal. Just imagine being on the cusp that survives. Is it not worth the striving for?

antialias_physorg
While I agree with your sentiment putting an unqualified value on life is also detrimental.

Why? In what situation is an unqualified value of life a detriment? I'm referring to human life. Though it should be extended to all life, it is impractical at this time.

I agree with the rest of your comment.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2011
In what situation is an unqualified value of life a detriment?

E.g. there's a growing amount of medical tech that can keep a person alive - even though there's really no point (e.g. extreme comatose patients that would be vegetables if they ever wake up, extremely elderly people who would be fated to spend the rest of their days gazing at a ceiling in extreme pain, etc. )

At some point it must be allowable to stop using treatment (either because the patient wants it so or because there is really no hope - though the latter is always a bit difficult to decide. But at least it should be a case-by-case decision - not a politically/ideologically motivated one)

The planet can only sustain a limited amount of (human) life. We should not try to extend that limit ad infinitum. Otherwise we'll end up with people stuck in overcrowded megacities just for the heck of it. We must try to find an optimum balance between quality and quantity of life.
LordHellFire666
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Some severe cases may respond badly to the treatment.
Imagine if most of the cells in your body or simply some of the cells on your heart is infected and then instructed to commit suicide... your heart stops working properly.

But researchers will probably get a handle on that issue and go for it! This sounds like a miracle cure-all for any virus-generated illness.
Birger
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Now, if this can be applied to HIV-infested cells (especially HIV "reservoirs")...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Imagine if most of the cells in your body or simply some of the cells on your heart is infected and then instructed to commit suicide... your heart stops working properly.

Those cells that are infected already have stopped working properly. They are't doing much more than fabricating new copies of the virus at that point, anyhow.

Now, if this can be applied to HIV-infested cells (especially HIV "reservoirs")...

Reservoirs might remain unaffected (this goes for HIV but also for viruses like Herpes), since in these cells the virus isn't (at that moment) replicating so the dsRNA isn't present until the next outbreak.
LivaN
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
In what situation is an unqualified value of life a detriment?

E.g. there's a growing amount of medical tech that can keep a person alive - even though there's really no point (e.g. extreme comatose patients that would be vegetables if they ever wake up, extremely elderly people who would be fated to spend the rest of their days gazing at a ceiling in extreme pain, etc. )

At some point it must be allowable to stop using treatment (either because the patient wants it so or because there is really no hope - though the latter is always a bit difficult to decide. But at least it should be a case-by-case decision - not a politically/ideologically motivated one)


I see your point. I was expecting something along the lines of population or resources. I really should clarify my comments.
typicalguy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Imagine if most of the cells in your body or simply some of the cells on your heart is infected and then instructed to commit suicide... your heart stops working properly.

Those cells that are infected already have stopped working properly. They are't doing much more than fabricating new copies of the virus at that point, anyhow.

Now, if this can be applied to HIV-infested cells (especially HIV "reservoirs")...

Reservoirs might remain unaffected (this goes for HIV but also for viruses like Herpes), since in these cells the virus isn't (at that moment) replicating so the dsRNA isn't present until the next outbreak.


Another would be chickenpox/shingles which lies dormant in the spinal fluid. While it wouldn't "cure" the disease, it would make life much easier for folks when a shingles outbreak occurs. It could also help contain many viral infections.
emsquared
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
Techo:
... blah ... blah ... blah
...
This is so easy a cave man can do it.

You're ignoring two things; one, the pharmaceutical industry doesn't want to eradicate viruses, that could seriously cut into their market, also, that 7 billion people will have to be on it at virtually the same time for a significant period of time.

But since it's so easy, then surely it's going to happen. I'll meet ya back here on this thread in 15-20 years when DRACO has hit the shelves and the WHO has had plenty of time to get everything lined up to celebrate with you when it does.
anon_jon
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2011
...disease, is population control, and if we keep on this trend of trying to cure all of what ails us, out population is going to skyrocket and cause many more problems. We're quickly closing the gap to where there are too many people on the planet, and there isn't enough to provide for them all.


Complete nonsense. Assuming 16 sq. ft. of personal space (which is very conservative), we could cram 2.1 billion people (or nearly 7x America's population) into Rhode Island. And you think that we'd be overcrowded anytime soon?
Techno1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2011
Complete nonsense. Assuming 16 sq. ft. of personal space (which is very conservative), we could cram 2.1 billion people (or nearly 7x America's population) into Rhode Island. And you think that we'd be overcrowded anytime soon?


Yeah, but you're not even considering multi-storied residential buildings and multi-stored hydroponics either.

If a sky scraper has 100 floors, then that's 100 times as much surface area for people to live in and raise crops.
Y8Q412VBZP21010
not rated yet Aug 11, 2011
If a sky scraper has 100 floors, then that's 100 times as much surface area for people to live in and raise crops.


Well, maybe not raise crops. Most assessments of the energy requirements to keep indoor crops illuminated suggest it would take a disproportionate amount of power to do it.

Now rooftop greenhouses ... there's a tempting idea. Imagine supermarkets growing some of their own fresh produce. It will take rethinking the operation, however.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
If a sky scraper has 100 floors, then that's 100 times as much surface area for people to live in and raise crops.

Only in a very naive calculation. The sunlight on that patch of land of the 100 floor skyscraper is still the same as if there was no skyscraper. Plants need light (among other things) - you can't get 100 times as much plants out of an acre of soild by simply sowing 100 times as many seedlings.

As for overcrowding: Don't forget all the space a human needs:
- for infrastructure
- to put his waste
- the space needed to grow his food
- the clean water sources required
- the space needed to generate the power he needs
- ...

Sure you could get a lot of people into a small area without considering any of this, but then you'd end up with a slum where people starve and die of thirst and have major problems with diseasesdue to the inability to remove wastes.
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
Light pipes:

Plants only use a few percent of the light they receive, and research is being done to customize the light's wavelength for plants raised indoors in hydroponics, to maximize the gains on a per-crop basis.

New technolgies are allowing the capture of light, and sorting it into wavelengths, or converting some of it to electricity and then converting to the wavelength you want/need for the application.

I figure you can probably get a good 10 to 20 floors worth of crops, and since hydroponics can work year-round, and several times the yield, in less time and less water and nutrients consumed per unit yield, then the limit in a multi-storied building is probably around 40 to 50 times per ground area yield in conventional farming...

So maybe the people live in 200 stories buildings, and farming would be done in 25 storied buildings...
renderist
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
There are viruses, called phages, that prey on bacteria, and presumably help to keep them in
check. So you wouldn't want to eliminate all viruses.

As for being able to eliminate human pathogenic viruses, there is a vast pool of viruses in the
animal population that periodically cross over and become infectious to humans. So you
would have to constantly dose your self with this drug. Eventually your immune system would
become dependent on it. Not a good thing, especially if some virus finds an end-run
around the drug, like producing an inhibitor to apoptosis. You wouldn't want it
become as commonplace as "antibacterial" additives to products.

But for specific cases where other remedies are not available, this does sound like a
powerful addition to the pharmacopeia.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
I figure you can probably get a good 10 to 20 floors worth of crops

That seems incredibly...erm...optimistic. But pulling numbers out of thin air seems to be a lot easier than extra light...
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2011
Staff members Scott Wick, Christina Zook, Tara Boettcher, Jennifer Pancoast and Benjamin Zusman and senior staff member Todd Rider.

Kudos and congratulations are in order here.
Many causes, one cure. Staggering implications there.
Overwhelming breakthrough.

Did not know all dsRNA are universal replication mechanisms to all viruses.
Here the ongoing list:
http://news.cnet....viruses/
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2011
I figure you can probably get a good 10 to 20 floors worth of crops

That seems incredibly...erm...optimistic. But pulling numbers out of thin air seems to be a lot easier than extra light...


It's based on the fact that allegedly plants actually only use less than a few percent of sunlight they recieve.

So if you could split the wavelengths and convert wavelengths to more ideal ranges, you could provide energy for many square meters worth of plants for every 1 square meter worth of sun light.
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2011
Plants use mostly blue and red wavelengths, yet the Sun is a yellow Dwarf...

http://www.hydrop...nce.html

This means that plants during photosynthesis use almost none of the natural sun light that actually hits their surface.

So if you could absorb sunlight and convert it to other wavelengths directly, and pipe it where it's needed, then you'd increase your productivity many times over. You'd need to experiment to see just how much light is needed and what is optimum wavelengths on a per-plant basis, but this is realistic numbers.
Alcedine
not rated yet Aug 13, 2011
Eventually, we could create new, benevolent and non-contagious virii which perhaps could target specific cells afflicted with cancers and other non-virus specific ailments, ...

If you're interested, there's a group in Helsinki that's researching oncolytic (cancer-killing) viruses. Hemminki, the guy who leads the team, seems to be the medical research equivalent of a rock star.

http://www.hi.hel...ndex.htm
_nigmatic10
1 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2011
New designer drug = zombie apocalypse! Woot!
nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Aug 14, 2011
Exciting news! In that paper in PLoS ONE, there is a list of patents, from like 2003, 2006 or 2009. Were any of those patents regarding this specific technology? And if yes, is this common that you patent something first and then you publish a paper on it?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 15, 2011
And if yes, is this common that you patent something first and then you publish a paper on it?

Yes, because if you publish first then you can't patent it anymore (you must have at least 'patent pending')
martinwolf
not rated yet Aug 15, 2011
how about slow virus diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis?
rynox
not rated yet Aug 15, 2011
This is a huge deal... possibly as big as the discovery of penicillin. We should learn the lessons of antibiotic usage and prescribe this antiviral in only the most dangerous and risky viral infections so as to not develop resistant strains.

Ok, after clinicals...

Couldn't you simply mass produce this drug and give it to everyone on earth for a few weeks, and thereby terminate almost all pathogenic viruses...similar to polio and smallpox?


The wide-spread usage of antibiotics and the subsequent antibiotic-resistant strains should serve as a lesson to not over-prescribe.
Ojorf
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
What about something like Hepatitis where your whole liver is basically infected, will you lose the whole thing?