Effects of drug-like molecule promising for development of broad-spectrum antiviral

If researchers were able to activate innate immunity in people, they would be able to control infection in a wide range of viruses, inoculating many against their effects and making them less resistant to drug treatments. Although no broad-spectrum antiviral that would trigger such immunity exists, researchers have identified a molecule that shows promise for creating one, according to a study published in the Journal of Virology.

In tests on cells and mice, RIG-1, the molecule in question, a drug-like compound, was able to induce genes that controlled infections in a range of viruses, including, West Nile, dengue, hepatitis C, Ebola and influenza, among others. This is the first compound shown to trigger innate immunity therapeutically, from a molecule present in every human cell, according to researchers.

When the cellular protein RIG-1 detects viral RNA, it triggers an innate immune response that expresses other antiviral genes and cells, which act together to prevent the virus from taking hold. Should further testing in animal models produce positive results, RIG-1 could be manipulated to produce the equivalent of a broad-spectrum antibiotic for viruses.

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