New Drug Makes Viruses Say, “FML!”

A friend of mine brought this awesome news story to my attention the other day:

New drug could cure nearly any viral infection
Researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab have developed technology that may someday cure the common cold, influenza and other ailments.

From the article:

Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections 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.

Rotavirus.

It’s really rather mindboggling to imagine a drug that can work against all viruses and that specifically targets only those cells that are infected with a virus, leaving all non-infected cells unharmed. Imagine a world where we don’t have to worry about everything from the common cold to HIV to Ebola. Rather unbelievable.

Of course, whenever I hear of something that sounds too good to be true, I have to wonder what the catch is. Because the development of a wonder drug sounds like the kind of thing that one might see at the start of a zombie apocalypse in a horror movie. Needless to say, given my love of virology and my apprehension about zombies, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this developing story.

Here’s the full article, if you are interested in reading such things.

Image Credit: From the Wikimedia Commons.