Published on : Dec 19, 2017
World over, constant efforts are being made to develop drugs that prevent viral infections affecting healthy cells, but most broad-spectrum dugs are effective against only a limited number of human pathogens. With the spiraling concerns of viral infections killing tens of thousands of humans each year, research are underway to develop antiviral drugs that are not virus-specific. Rather, they destroy viruses with the risk of viral mutation resistance. An international group of scientists from multiple disciplines including researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Texas at El Paso, collaborated and designed anti-viral nanoparticles that are non-toxic and destroy viruses. These broad-spectrum nanoparticles are effective against a wide range of human pathogens and robustly bind to viruses and ultimately deform them irreversibly.
The results are detailed in an article published in the journal Nature Materials on December 18, 2017.
Strong Viral Binding Irreversibly Deform Viruses
The nanoparticles were designed using elaborate simulations and computational modeling techniques. The researchers in in vitro experiments showed the nanoparticles to be effective against antiviral activity against several common deadly viruses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human papilloma virus, and dengue virus. These anti-viral nanoparticles work by mimicking heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), a cell surface protein and the most common target for viral attachment.
Computational Modeling Techniques Guide Understanding of Atomic Interactions in Virus
In order to make the association strong unlike the currently available anti-viral agents, the experimentalists developed long and flexible linkers that can irreversibly damage viruses without any known cytotoxicity. A number of biochemists from the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, and France collaborated for the study. The team used advanced computational technologies to better understand the precise interactions among individual groups of atoms found in the viruses. The team confirmed that these nanoparticles are active ex vivo in human cervicovaginal histocultures that are infected by Herpes simplex virus.