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Draper Nanotechnology Could Fight Influenza, Other Viruses
Date:1/7/2014

onstrated in the laboratory that the nanotraps effectively countered multiple influenza strains able to infect humans and went on to show nanotraps protected mice infected with the flu. They have also developed additional particles geared toward other types of respiratory viruses.

Nanotraps, unlike most vaccines, are not strain specific and are designed to be effective against newly emerging strains of human-adapted influenza virus. Since nanotraps mimic a fundamental step in the viral life cycle – the binding of the virus to a host cell’s receptor – nanotraps may offer an opportunity to treat devastating infectious diseases without causing the development of treatment resistance, Comolli said.

The nanotrap molecule is composed mainly of compounds found naturally in the human body so it is likely to be safe as an inhalant, topical solution, or intravenous treatment and inexpensive to manufacture. With further development, nanotraps have the potential to treat a large range of infectious diseases because the attached carbohydrates can be tuned for other viruses such as HIV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), as well as bacteria and toxins.

The work was originally funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to address emerging pandemics or bioweapons targeting US troops; Draper is continuing the research with the intent of applying it more broadly to the civilian community.

While nanotraps could be customized to treat a variety of viruses, another project underway at Draper, DRACO could do so with a single approach. DRACO is a unique therapeutic drug that should be effective against a very broad spectrum of viruses, just as existing antibiotics are effective against a broad range of bacterial infections. DRACO could be ready for human clinical trials in five to 10 years, according to Todd Rider, who leads the research at Draper.

DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase
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