How Computer Science Is Helping To Fight Viral Infections
IBM Research announced a new macromolecule to protect healthy cells from viruses
Viruses like dengue fever, Ebola and Zika have become global health epidemics, and one of the biggest challenges in fighting off these viral infections is how rapidly they mutate and become drug resistant. IBM Research and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have identified a new breakthrough macromolecule that acts as a ‘magic bullet’ capable of preventing deadly viral infections, regardless of their ability to mutate.
After observing the similarities all viruses shared, researchers found that all viruses have a protective coating made of glycoproteins which allows them to stick to normal cells. IBM’s new macromolecule has several components that create a powerful triple-play action to combat viruses and inhibit drug resistance. First, it turns itself into a sort of magnet for the virus, attracting it and stopping it from infecting healthy cells. A type of sugar called mannose binds to healthy immune cells, to help fight infections and allowing these cell flow freely in the system. Finally, a component of the macromolecule neutralizes the pH levels inside the viral cells, making it harder for them to replicate.