Tuesday, May 03, 2016

One Vaccination to Rule Them All

The mannose-PEI combination was effective against a number
of viruses without harming healthy cells (phys.org graphic)
Scientists are developing a general anti-virus serum, improving on current
vaccines [that] are a wonderful piece of ammunition. But they are like bullets that can hit one target only. Different vaccines are needed to prevent specific viral infections.
James Hedrick (IBM), Naoki Yamamoto (National University of Singapore), and Yi Yan Yang [blogger's note: - great name!] (Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore) are experimenting with polyethylenimine:
Previous work has shown this polymer can thwart a viral invasion, but it has groups of amines, derivatives of ammonia, on the ends of its molecular branches and these can kill healthy cells.
The researchers found that adding mannose, a form of sugar, to the polyethylenimine (PEI) neutralized the bad effects:
Cell cultures exposed to the mannose-decorated polyethylenimine molecules proved invulnerable to every virus that they studied. More important, they found that the newly created material is not toxic at the concentrations that were needed to meddle with the surface charges on viruses.
A general antiviral would be a breakthrough development: not only could it slow the spread of pandemic diseases like the Zika virus, it could also protect against mutations. Faster, please.

Note: polyethylenimine can also be used in carbon-capture technology, one of the solutions to global warming. Is there anything it can't do?

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