Swiss And British Researchers Develop New Broad-Spectrum Antiviral From Sugar That Can Be Used For Coronaviruses
Swiss Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in collaboration with British researchers have modified sugar molecules so that they are capable, by simple contact, of destroying viruses
, without toxicity to humans. This new broad-spectrum antiviral
could apply, for example, to the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus
Typically, so-called "virucidal" substances, such as bleach, destroy viruses
by simple contact, but they cannot be applied to the human body without causing serious damage, noted the UNIGE in a statement.
A majority of today's antiviral drugs work by inhibiting the growth of viruses
but are incapable of destroying them. Complicating matters, they are not always reliable: viruses
can mutate and become resistant to such treatments.
Dr Caroline Tapparel Vu, a Professor in the department of microbiology and molecular medicine of UNIGE who led the research effort along with Dr Francesco Stellacci, a Professor at the faculty of engineering sciences and techniques of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) told Thailand Medical
News, "To get around these two obstacles and be able to effectively fight against viral infections, we found an entirely different angle of attack.”
Medical researchers had previously produced a gold-based antiviral
. Applying the same concept, they have this time succeeded in developing an antiviral
using natural glucose derivatives, called cyclodextrins
Dr Samuel Jones, a co-researcher at the University of Manchester who has been working with the team from UNIGE further commented, "The advantages of cyclodextrins
are numerous: even more biocompatible than gold, and easier to use. They do not trigger a resistance mechanism and are not toxic."
Dr Valeria Cagno of UNIGE further elaborated, "In addition, cyclodextrins
are already widely used, particularly in the food industry, which would facilitate the marketing of pharmaceutical treatments using them."
The specially modified sugar molecules attract viruses
before irreversibly inactivating them. By disrupting the outer layer of the virus
, they manage to destroy infectious particles by simple contact, instead of only blocking viral growth.
More significantly, this mechanism seems to work regardless of the virus
concerned. Scientists have been able to demonstrate this on viruses
responsible for respiratory and herpes infections.
A legal patent has been filed and a spin-off created to study the pharmaceutical development that could be made with this discovery. The cyclodextrins
could be administered as a cream, gel or nasal spray.
Although drugs for specific viruses, such as HIV or hepa
titis C, exist, they only have a narrow application. The development of new broad-spectrum antivirals
is considered essential, especially to tackle the most devastating viruses or emerging viruses against which there is no treatment.
This new research development work, according to the authors, could then have a global impact. The compound may also be effective against new emerging viruses
like the the novel coronavirus
that started in China and spread overseas.
as broad-spectrum antivirals
Samuel T. Jones, Valeria Cagno, Matej Janeček, Daniel Ortiz, Natalia Gasilova, Jocelyne Piret, Matteo Gasbarri, David A. Constant, Yanxiao Han, Lela Vuković, Petr Král, Laurent Kaiser, Song Huang, Samuel Constant, Karla Kirkegaard, Guy Boivin, Francesco Stellacciand Caroline Tapparel, Science Advances 29 Jan 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 5, eaax9318, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax9318