Yuntao Wu and his team within George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases could be on the verge of developing a new class of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that could eventually slow the spread of dreaded diseases such as HIV, Ebola and herpes.
Wu and his colleagues have designed and developed a series of small molecules that have shown the ability to prevent viruses from replicating and spreading throughout the human body.
The molecule, which has been synthesized into an experimental drug called R10015, not only specifically blocks HIV, Ebola, herpes and other viruses from infecting healthy cells, but also denies viruses from releasing to infect other cells, if cells do get infected. The drug also prevents viruses from cell-to-cell transmission that further spreads the maladies, including sexual transmission.
The drug is still in the early testing stages with use limited thus far to mice, but larger test subjects such as monkeys could be next, with human trials coming last. The drug has shown few side effects on mice when used exclusively on a short-term basis, Wu said.
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