The various kinds of RNA viruses that can afflict the human body include hepatitis C, influenza, Ebola, and West Nile virus. These types of viruses spread through the human body, using cellular machinery to reproduce and spread the infection. The body’s immune system can, on occasion, fight off these infections. Scientists have created antibiotics that can destroy these viruses. But the drugs tend to be expensive and have the potential for creating drug-resistant “superbugs.”
The hunt for a full-spectrum antiviral drug that can handle all kinds of RNA viruses has been the Holy Grail of the biotechnology industry for quite some time. According to Gizmag, researchers at the University of Washington think that they have found a molecule that will trigger the body’s immune system to attack any kind of RNA virus. The treatment being developed involves injecting a compound that activates a molecule in the human body called RIG-1. RIG-1 is a receptor that detects the presence of a pathogen and deploys the body’s natural defenses to combat it.
The research team, using this approach, was able to achieve a significant decrease in the number and reproduction of a whole range of RNA viruses. Studies with cells in the laboratory and using mouse models have elicited promising results.
The next step is to develop dosages and stability in higher animal models. Eventually, the researchers will conduct human trials. The timeline to conduct these studies is two to five years, with approval to occur an indeterminate time thereafter before the full-spectrum antiviral treatment is made available.
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