Visionary viral disease treatment needs funding

The US inventor of a potential drug treatment for all viral diseases is now crowd-funding research so it can be tested against major families of clinical viruses
Dr Todd Rider from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) invented novel broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that may treat and prevent virtually all viral diseases. The work began 15 years ago and now needs help to fund tests against major families of clinical viruses in human cells, which hopefully will ultimately lead to human trials.
Dr Rider invented DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers) which are novel broad-spectrum antiviral drugs. So far, DRACOs have proved effective against Rhinovirus (the common cold), Dengue virus, H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) and more in the lab. The results were published in the Journal of PLOS ONE.
This new drug treatment would potentially impact the number of patients who develop Myalgic encephalomyelitis as Enteroviruses, the Epstein Barr virus, Human herpes virus Cytomegalovirus30 and ParvovirusB19 are implicated in ME, according to the ME International Consensus Primer.
This is how it works: DRACOS is designed to kill virus-infected cells while not harming uninfected cells. Simply put, most viruses have long double- or single-stranded RNA but healthy human and animal cells do not. Or you can watch Dr Rider explain it. It is worth watching.
At the moment, there are only a few antiviral drugs and they are generally directed at a single disease. Viruses tend to become resistant to single drugs that target specific viral components because they can rapidly mutate. Unlike other antiviral drugs, DRACO detects a process—the production of double-stranded RNA—that almost all viruses use. Dr. Rider’s team has shown that a wide range of viruses produce double-stranded RNA and can be successfully treated with DRACO. Because DRACO combines double-stranded RNA detection with a method that causes the infected cell to self-destruct, viruses will have little opportunity to develop resistance to it.
Dr Rider and his team are fundraising to test DRACOs against clinically relevant viruses in human cells and hope to raise US$2 million over four years. The introduction of antibiotics in the mid-20th century has been one of the largest breakthroughs in the history of medicine. This could be the next one.
Read more about the work and the campaign.


9 thoughts on “Visionary viral disease treatment needs funding”

  1. Almost too good to be true? Wonder if the same or similar will be developed for cancer? Haven gone through a bunch of antivirals, I have learned a lot on how they work. Some are not too far off from this. Those antivirals are suppose to genetically modify the virus so it cannot reproduce. Well, that is the theory. In me it was not effective. Hence, the reason with my pessimistic optimism. People with ME for any amount of time will understand that statement.

    1. Yes, a ‘pessimistic optimistic’ approach makes sense. Mice are quite different to people but I’m fascinated with how this might turn out. I’m watching with interest.

  2. This is so exciting for me as I became ill after learning my cmv titers were 15 times above normal. My youngest son became ill after sick with ebv and then an accident. This sounds so hopeful, after 28 years of experimenting so many meds with lots of bad reactions and little relief, I welcome the idea of an antibiotic, such as they have for Lyme disease.

  3. Kandice Dickinson

    Yes – pessimistic optimism sounds about right. I’ve no illusions that there’ll be help for people like 55-yr-old me, mostly bedbound for 15 years from sudden-onset M.E. Not enough time left on my life-clock for significant M.E. acceptance/research breakthroughs – but I hold out hope for ME sufferers in the decades to come!

  4. It is not enough to wish them good luck at this point. Please donate today (click the link “read more about the work and the campaign”) and spread the word, they need money now to show the effectiveness against clinically relevant viruses such as Herpesvirus and HIV in order to attract parners in the pharma industry. Thank you! -a philanthropist

    1. Hi Nicolai,
      Thanks for your comment. We are supportive and some people have donated, no one here said they simply wished them good luck.
      Many of us reading this have a serious, debilitating neuro-immune illness which a recent US government report admitted funding was ‘woefully inadequate’ and so for us, the priority may be for us to donate to medical research into Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
      As you are a philanthropist interested in science, I ask you to have look at research at Columbia University and consider donating to them too,

  5. This is exciting and much needed. I have been following Dr.Rider’s research and strongly believe it should be funded. For those who are skeptical, put your money where your mouth is and you will be amazed. This man dedicated 15 years of his life to researching a cure and you’re wondering if it works? You don’t question chemo which can potentially kill you faster then the cancer you have.. but you’re question a potentially safe alternative? ( Backwards logic seems to be a trend)
    Furthermore, MIT would not associate its prestigious institution with a treatment that wasn’t anything less then genius. They are known to have some of the brightest minds in the world. I am 100% in support of this project and ending viral issues. EBV especially and HPV that is the most prevalent causes of cancer in young people. Lets get some real change!! Draco all the way!

  6. $2 million doesn’t sound much, if this is one of the biggest revolutions in humans history!!!!
    Maybe they should sell the patent to one of the big drug companies, or organize a massive fund raising concert?? Contact every big name suffering from HI virus? Etc etc… MIT has a marketing department/ students who could work for PR?
    Or come to Europe, and attend to one of the start up events. Surely you will find investors! Your government isn’t supporting this?

  7. Really interesting article, Sasha. I looked into this when writing my flu blog post. Whether this would cure those who have had M.E. for a long time would depend on whether M.E. is a continued viral infection, wouldn’t it and might only prevent the initial active viral illness from triggering M.E.? It’s promising though, for a universal cure for all viral illnesses such as the common cold – the bane of human existence!

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