The arrival of the Zika virus and recent Ebola epidemic has provided a challenge for the scientific and pharmaceutical community. Researchers around the world race to study these pathogens in order to concoct a suitable treatment, but the issue is that these viruses have a penchant for quickly mutating, adding more difficulty in developing a vaccine.
However, new research from IBM and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology shows a potential solution for combatting these infections.
The team designed a macromolecule that targets glycoproteins, which are structures viruses used to latch onto healthy cells initiating the infection process, according to Popular Science.
Here’s how the eradication process worked with this creation. The macromolecule activates an electrostatic charge luring the virus into close proximity. Next, the compound latches itself to the virus and neutralizes its acidity levels preventing the pathogen from attaching to healthy cells and start replication.
Plus, Popular Science added the macromolecule was built with a sugar called mannose that, “attaches to healthy immune cells and forces them closer to the virus so that the viral infection can be eradicated more easily.”
Early animal tests had shown this strategy was successful in staving off viruses like Ebola and dengue, but more research needs to be done before this can be considered a viable antiviral therapy.
The study was published in the journal Macromolecules.
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