Researchers at IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore have created a macromolecule––one giant molecule made of smaller subunits––that might treat multiple types of viruses and prevent infection.
According to a paper published in Macromolecules, the macromolecule warded off viruses such as influenza, dengue and Ebola successfully in a lab environment. Importantly, the macromolecule remained effective even after the viruses mutated. Researchers plan to test the Zika virus next, and they believe its similarities to a form of dengue already tested will result in yet another successful trial.
The macromolecule attacks viruses in a novel way. It first attracts viruses to itself using electrostatic charges. Then, once the virus is in proximity, the macromolecule attaches itself to the virus, rendering the virus incapable of attaching itself to healthy cells. Finally, the macromolecule neutralizes the virus’s acidity levels, which stops the virus from replicating.
Because the majority of viruses are well adapted to their host organism, virus structures often vary considerably. This makes it hard to find a suitable, single weapon against them. Moreover, because RNA and DNA mutate from virus to virus, the search for a single tool has
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