According tomedia New Atlas, many viruses are difficult to eliminate quickly – and most drugs and chemicals that work are also harmful to human health. But now, scientists have developed a new antiviral substance derived from sugar that is deadly to many viruses but safe for humans.
The vast majority of existing antiviral treatments do not actually kill bacteria, but rather slow their growth or reduce their ability to infect cells. Although this is an effective way to prevent disease, viruses can grow rapidly, so they often change new defenses against these drugs. What is needed now is a new type of antiviral agent that can effectively eliminate viruses and ideally target different types of viruses. Researchers from the University of Manchester, the University of Geneva and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) have managed to create a promising new drug that can kill the virus.
The team started with a molecule called cyclodextrin, a natural derivative of glucose. They modify these molecules to attract viruses, then cling to their surfaces and tear off their outer membranes, effectively destroying them. Researchers tested the new treatment on several types of the virus, including herpes, HIV, hepatitis C, Zika virus and respiratory syncytial virus, and gained widespread recognition. They tested these molecules in laboratory dishes of viruses and tissue cultures and in mice and found that they were effective. Importantly, they do not damage tissue cultures or cells in mice, and other tests have shown that the virus does not mutate the resistance to the drug.
Samuel Jones and Valeria Cagno, lead researchers on the study, said: “We have successfully designed a new molecule, a modified sugar with broad-spectrum antiviral properties. Antiviral mechanisms have the effect of killing viruses, which means that the virus strives to develop resistance. Because it is a new antiviral drug and one of the first to show broad-spectrum efficacy, it has the potential to change the game in the treatment of viral infections. “
The researchers say the molecule may be useful for viruses that have become resistant to other therapies, and may even be useful for future threats similar to new coronaviruses. The team has patented the molecule and is now setting up a spin-off to bring it to market. The team’s ultimate goal was to make them into ointments, nasal sprays and other treatments.
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances.