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So what is this mysterious technological advancement? The paper calls them DRACOs, which is short for Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers. In essence, it is a substance that induces apoptosis, or cell death, in cells containing viral dsRNA, the double-stranded RNA produced by viruses for the purpose of replication.
Human cells are naturally pre-programmed to create special proteins that destroy these dsRNA strands, but viruses can mutate to outsmart and bypass this safeguard. This is where DRACOs come in, adding an additional protein into the mix that triggers apoptosis in infected cells. This combined approach is not only effective against virtually all tested viruses, but it also eliminates the possibility of viral resistance.
“Viruses are pretty good at developing resistance to things we try against them,” stated Karla Kirkegaard, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, to MIT News about the development. “[B]ut in this case, it’s hard to think of a simple pathway to drug resistance.”
The best part about DRACO technology is that it leaves uninfected cells alone, which can’t be said for the array of pharmaceuticals currently on the market, including chemotherapy drugs that kill everything in their path