Through a joint effort between IBM Watson Research and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering, Nanotechnology, a macromolecule has been created that may treat multiple types of viruses and prevent infections.
This giant molecule made of smaller sub-units was designed from the ground up to specifically address the usual problems associated with fighting viruses. It attracts the virus with electrostatic charges and attaches to it. After the new macromolecule is attached, the virus can no longer attach to healthy cells. It then begins to neutralize the acidity levels inside the virus in order to stop the replication process and boosts the body’s natural immune system at the same time.
Common obstacles in fighting viruses include rapid replication and mutation. This discovery is a breakthrough in combating these issues. It could also help to accelerate drug discoveries in the future.
Lab testing produced successful elimination of viruses such as influenza, Ebola, Marburg and herpes simplex. Even though the treatment limits the ability of the virus to mutate, it remained effective after mutation.
Scientists plan to test the new treatment with the Zika virus and believe that the similarities between Zika and a previously tested strain of dengue show much promise.
The macromolecule has potential for use in the form of an anti-viral wipe or detergent and a possible vapor version to prevent outbreaks. There is also the possibility to prevent viral infections all together with a new mode of vaccination.