HIV/anti-viral – puzzle from the press

DRACO is supposed to be something from MIT that will fight all viruses.  Watch out for DRACO – MIT Scientist Develops Vaccine To “Cure All Viral Diseases”

…HIV or hepatitis, emerging viruses such as avian or swine influenza, and highly lethal viruses such as Ebola or smallpox…

As part of the PANACEA (for Pharmacological Augmentation of Nonspecific Anti-pathogen Cellular Enzymes and Activities) project, researchers from MIT Lincoln Laboratory have developed and demonstrated a novel broad-spectrum antiviral approach, called DRACO (for Double-stranded RNA [dsRNA] Activated Caspase Oligomerizer). DRACO selectively induces apoptosis, or cell suicide, in cells containing any viral dsRNA, rapidly killing infected cells without harming uninfected cells. As a result, DRACO should be effective against virtually all viruses, rapidly terminating a viral infection while minimizing the impact on the patient.

Like many such notices in the pop-sci press, it is hard to figure, and the headline is overwrought, as is the article.

  • HIV is a single stranded RNA virus, not a double, and has no dsRNA stage. So as described, this couldn’t work against them.
  • Smallpox is a DNA virus, so this wouldn’t work.

Ebola, hepatitis viruses and influenza viruses could be susceptible to this method.

My guess is that they might have a small molecule that ramps up Rig-1.

Is this worthwhile? Certainly, as an anti-viral for a limited subset of viruses.

What is it? I’m not sure. I’d guess it’s a small molecule, but don’t hold me to that.