The first broad-spectrum antiviral compound has shown the potential to suppress and control some of the most common and deadly RNA virus infections.
Researchers at the University of Washington, in collaboration with Kineta Inc. and the University of Texas at Galveston have demonstrated that their drug like molecules can induce the immune system to fight off viral infections.
“It’s routine for us to think of broad-spectrum antibiotics, but the equivalent for virology doesn’t exist,” says Shawn Iadonato, chief scientific officer at Seattle biotech Kineta.
Rat and mice testing has shown that certain compounds can induce an immune receptor called RIG-1. The receptor is responsible for instructing the cell to produce chemicals, which sets of a cascade of signals inside the cell leading to the death of the virus.
According to the researchers “these products act in concert to suppress and control virus infection”.
Diseases such as Ebola, Influenza A, Hepatitis C and Dengue fever are susceptible to this form of antiviral. At current they collectively infect hundreds of millions of people each year and so any treatment or control measure is highly sought after.
“Our compound has an antiviral effect against all these viruses,” said Michael Gale Jr., University of Washington professor of immunology and director of the UW Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease.
The next step is to use animal models and then humans to test the effectiveness of this treatment technique, potentially saving tens of millions of lives if successful.
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