Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Weill Cornell Medical College have found a new means to hunt viruses the old fashioned way: by luring them in for the kill. Using artificial, protocellular “honey pots,” the researchers have devised a way to trap deadly human viruses and terminate them with extreme prejudice.
Unlike antibiotics, which kill many different types of bacteria, antiviral drugs for the most part need to target individual, specific viruses. A drug that attacks a multitude of viruses -- an antibiotic for viruses, effectively -- would be a significant boon for medicine. And a group of researchers led by UCLA scientists just may have discovered exactly that.
Viruses can rapidly evolve and adapt to the latest antiviral drugs in a never-ending war of survival. Yet some scientists have spent the past 10 years working on ways to turn that rapid mutation against the viruses. Carl Zimmer, a science writer with a special fondness for parasites, described the challenges facing those scientists in a recent New York Times story.