Geneva / A team of Swiss and British scientists has discovered that laboratory-modified sugar molecules can destroy many viruses by simple contact and could serve to advance the fight against diseases such as the coronavirus recently originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Until now, most of the substances that were known were capable of destroying a virus by simple contact, or “virucidal”, were generally extremely toxic to the human organism and could not be applied to it without causing serious damage, in case of bleach .
The finding reported by the Federal Polytechnic University of Lausanne (EPFL) could be, as he says, significant progress in the fight against viruses for which treatments tend to show limited effectiveness and do not usually stop the spread of infections completely.
Modified sugars are especially effective “in viruses responsible for respiratory infections and herpes,” notes EPFL on research in which experts from the universities of Geneva (Switzerland) and Manchester (United Kingdom) have also participated, and which will be published in the specialized magazine “Science Advances“.
The usual antiviral drugs, with substances more absorbable by the body, slow the development of viruses without completely destroying them, which can allow them to mutate and become resistant to treatments, increasing the risks of epidemic.
In their research work the scientists used natural glucose derivatives called cyclodextrins, explained the director of the research, Caroline Tapparel Vu, of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva.
These derivatives “do not activate resistance mechanisms and are not toxic,” said Samuel Jones, a researcher at the University of Manchester and also a participant in the project.
They attract viruses and inactivate them
Modified sugar molecules attract viruses and inactivate them irreversibly, instead of simply blocking their growth, as many of today’s antivirals work.
According to the researchers, the fact that cyclodextrins are used in the food industry would facilitate their approval for pharmaceutical treatments, in cream, gel or nasal spray.
The use of cyclodextrins also seems to be effective in many types of viruses, not just one in particular (many antivirals for viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C are specific to them) and help in diseases for which there is no treatment yet.
“If we succeed in this transition to specific applications, our work could have a global impact, and the compound could be effective against new emerging viruses such as the one that is currently causing concern in China,” experts say in their statement. (January 31, 2020, EFE / Practica Español)
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