New drug may fight all types of viral infection

A team of American researchers has developed a drug capable of fighting nearly any type of viral infection.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory have designed a drug that can identify cells infected by a virus and then eliminate them, ending the infection. Their study, published in the July 27 issue of the journal PLoS One, demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug against 15 different kinds of viruses, according to

“In theory, it should work against all viruses,” Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist at Lincoln Laboratory, said, reports.

Rider said that because the drug is so broad spectrum in its abilities, it has the potential to be used to combat new or never before seen viral infections, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The antiviral works because it identifies and then targets a type of RNA that is only produced by virus infected cells. Rider came up with the idea of developing a broad spectrum antiviral therapy 11 years ago after inventing a system that rapidly identifies pathogens.

“If you detect a pathogenic bacterium in the environment, there is probably an antibiotic that could be used to treat someone exposed to that, but I realized there are very few treatments out there for viruses,” Rider said, according to

The research has been funded with a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the New England Center of Excellence for BioDefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Director of Defense Research & Engineering have also contributed.