The above headline is the UK Daily Mail’s *very* optimistic interpretation of our lab’s research towards developing broad-spectrum antiviral therapies. The more technical journal article can be read at PLoS One. The basic idea is to create a novel antiviral treatment that specifically targets a virus-infected cell by linking one of its unique markers (a type of double-stranded RNA) to a trigger for suicide. The “DRACO” therapy kills virus-infected cells without harming uninfected cells, as seen below.
“In the left set, rhinovirus (the common cold virus) kills untreated human cells (lower left), whereas DRACO has no toxicity in uninfected cells (upper right) and cures an infected cell population (lower right). Similarly, in the right set, dengue hemorrhagic fever virus kills untreated monkey cells (lower left), whereas DRACO has no toxicity in uninfected cells (upper right) and cures an infected cell population (lower right)” (MIT):
After years of being in the lab, I’m very happy to see our results generating so much interest- even if the gap between hopeful journalism and nitty gritty science is still very wide. A few other sources offered more measured, in-depth reports: Time, New Scientist, U.S. News and World Report, Popular Science, and The Huffington Post.