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Ebola Virus explained

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Curing viral diseases before they have even evolved

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The New Scientist has an interesting story out about Michael Goldblatt, who once led the biodefense program for the Pentagon's research arm, DARPA, and now heads Functional Genetics, a biotech company in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Goldblatt, along with a few other researchers, "are working on an entirely new class of antiviral drugs that should do something seemingly impossible: work against a wide range of existing viruses and also be effective against viruses that have not even evolved yet."

"The conventional strategy for developing antivirals is "one bug, one drug" - finding a drug that blocks viral replication by binding to part of a viral protein. The trouble is, any minor mutation that slightly changes the shape of the protein can render these drugs useless, as is happening with Tamiflu."

"Goldblatt's approach might sound too good to be true, but the first trials of these drugs are already producing encouraging early results. If just a few of them live up to their promise in full-scale human trials - no sure thing - they will be a medical breakthrough on a par with the discovery of penicillin. At last, doctors will be able to treat viral diseases as ably as they do bacterial ones."

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