A major breakthrough out of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) shows incredible promise as a cure for virtually every kind of viral infection known to man. But the mainstream media has chosen to stick with hype, fear and, more recently, the ominous threat of martial law when it comes to dealing with alleged viral threats like H1N1 and Ebola.
Scientists from the school’s Lincoln Laboratory basically came up with a method of targeting viruses that destroys infected cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, similar to how antiviral nutrients function. But here’s the kicker: The discovery was made in 2011, three years before the current Ebola outbreak, though it hasn’t received any media attention whatsoever.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, a groundbreaking study on this novel therapeutic explains how existing antiviral medications are scarce, and many of them largely ineffective. Viable treatments for the common cold, for example, are practically nonexistent, while newer diseases like SARS are regarded by public health officials as basically untreatable.

“In theory, it should work against all viruses,” stated Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist from the Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological and Nanoscale Technologies Group and inventor of the technology, to MIT News.

DRACOs tell virus-infected cells to kill themselves

So what is this mysterious technological advancement? The paper calls them DRACOs, which is short for Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers. In essence, it is a substance that induces apoptosis, or cell death, in cells containing viral dsRNA, the double-stranded RNA produced by viruses for the purpose of replication.

Human cells are naturally pre-programmed to create special proteins that destroy these dsRNA strands, but viruses can mutate to outsmart and bypass this safeguard. This is where DRACOs come in, adding an additional protein into the mix that triggers apoptosis in infected cells. This combined approach is not only effective against virtually all tested viruses, but it also eliminates the possibility of viral resistance.

“Viruses are pretty good at developing resistance to things we try against them,” stated Karla Kirkegaard, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, to MIT News about the development. “[B]ut in this case, it’s hard to think of a simple pathway to drug resistance.”

DRACOs don’t harm healthy cells

The best part about DRACO technology is that it leaves uninfected cells alone, which can’t be said for the array of pharmaceuticals currently on the market, including chemotherapy drugs that kill everything in their path. Tests conducted both in vitro (in a test tube) and in vivo (in living organisms) show that DRACO is capable of killing the H1N1 influenza virus without causing any harm.

“DRACOs should be effective against numerous clinical and NIAID priority viruses, due to the broad-spectrum sensitivity of the dsRNA detection domain, the potent activity of the apoptosis induction domain, and the novel direct linkage between the two which viruses have never encountered,” wrote the authors.

“We have demonstrated that DRACOs are effective against viruses with DNA, dsRNA, positive-sense ssRNA, and negative-sense ssRNA genomes; enveloped and non-enveloped viruses; viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm and viruses that replicate in the nucleus; human, bat, and rodent viruses; and viruses that use a variety of cellular receptors.”

This clearly represents an extensive array of efficacy that is unmatched by any drugs currently on the market, yet DRACOs have received little media attention since they were first announced. Though they obviously require much more extensive testing to ensure safety, DRACOs appear to have taken a back seat to vaccines, which are the only type of intervention that government health officials seem to care about these days.