The widespread of Zika Virus is still imminent, leaving scientist scrambling off their feet in search for potential cures and vaccines. IBM decided to join the fray against the virus and introduced a new weapon that can potentially put a stop in the spread of Zika and other viral infections including Ebola, Dengue, Flu and even Herpes.
The new approach utilizes a multifunctional macromolecule that can disrupt infection of replication process of viruses. These macromolecules, according to Forbes, consist of three components each having a specific role to play in viral suppression.
The fist component prevents the virus from infecting healthy cells with the use of electrostatic bonds to lock into the virus. The second component hinders the replication process of the virus by neutralizing its acidity level, while the third component uses a type of sugar called mannose that binds to healthy cells in the immune system and draws them to the virus so they can fight it off more effectively.
To test the efficacy of the new approach, researchers from IBM conducted an experiment using different viruses including dengue, influenza, Chikungunya, Enterovirus 71, Ebola, Marburg and herpes simplex to pit against the engineered molecule. They found out that the viruses used in their experiment did not develop any signs of resistance to the macromolecules and has experienced significant reduction in infection.
Zika virus was not included in the laboratory experiment because it does not yet pose an eminent threat during the trial period, but researchers strongly believe that Zika is similar to dengue to and the macromolecule will have a similar effect.
The macromolecules developed by IBM still have a long road to take before being utilized on actual medical treatments. But the results of first trial, which are not conducted on human subjects, suggest that macromolecules have a great potential to be an effective treatment against viruses.
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