Posted on Feb 04, 2020, 3 p.m.
Antiviral materials have developed in collaboration by a team of international scientists using sugar that has been designed to destroy viruses on contact which may be useful against viral outbreaks; scientists from the Universities of Manchester, Geneva, and the EPFL in Lausanne are in the early stages of developing the broad spectrum activity of the antiviral material which could also be effective against newly prevalent viral diseases such as the coronavirus.
The new antiviral shows promise for treatment of herpes simplex, respiratory syncytial virus, HIV, hepatitis C, and the Zika virus among others; and it has been demonstrated to be successful in treating a range of viruses in lab studies including genital herpes.
Virucidal substances such as bleach are typically able to destroy viruses on contact but they are toxic to humans, meaning they can’t be taken or applied to the body without causing harm; creating virucides from sugar has allowed for the advent of a new type of antiviral drug that can destroy viruses without being toxic to humans.
Antiviral drugs currently work by inhibiting virus growth, however, they are not always reliable as viruses can mutate and become treatment resistant. As published in the journal Science Advances the team successfully used modified sugar molecules to disrupt the outer shell of a virus thereby destroying the infectious particles on contact, this approach was also shown to defend against drug resistance.
Modified molecules were successfully engineered using natural glucose cyclodextrin derivatives that attract viruses before breaking them down on contact to destroy the virus and fight the infection.
"We have successfully engineered a new molecule, which is a modified sugar that shows broad-spectrum antiviral properties. The antiviral mechanism is virucidal meaning that viruses struggle to develop resistance. As this is a new type of antiviral and one of the first to ever show broad-spectrum efficacy, it has potential to be a game changer in treating viral infections." said Dr Samuel Jones, from The University of Manchester and a member of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, who jointly led the pioneering research with Dr Valeria Cagno from the University of Geneva.
"We developed a powerful molecule able to work against very different viruses, therefore, we think this could be game changing also for emerging infections,” said Professor Caroline Tapparel from the University of Geneva and Prof Francesco Stellacci from EPFL, who were both also senior authors of the study.
This new antiviral molecule has been patented, and a company is currently being set up to continue moving this new development through all of the required processes to get it to real world use. This treatment may make its way to pills, injections, nasal sprays, ointments, and creams for viral infections in the future as it can work to break down multiple viruses making it a cost effective new option even for resistant viruses.
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