Sunday, February 12, 2012
Nanotechnology and future antiviral therapies
Recently, research has been done on the interactions of nanoparticles on the surface structure of viruses (see interaction of silver particles on G120 of HIV) and there's been interest in developing nanoparticles capable of neutralizing viruses or delivering drugs to specific targets. A company called NanoViricides Inc has developed 'polymeric micelles' that contain ligands normally specific to viral tropogens. This viricide's mechanism of action involves binding to viral-specific proteins (multiple types, if available) and engulfing the virion. In vitro, it has been shown to disassemble the virus in many cases, but researchers have been unable to explain why this happens.
This new type of antiviral therapy is slated to have no adverse metabolic effects, significantly higher effectiveness than chemical drugs, a short R/D period (3-6 weeks), and is biodegradable. It is touted to be a good, rapid counter to bioterror because micelles containing target proteins specific to the virus can be created quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately, the research summary did not include possible disadvantages, of which I can imagine many: host immune response may inactivate the drug, finding effective tropotopes is a severe limiting factor, targeting latent or intracellular pathogens may be difficult, etc.
Possible applications include control of viremia via injection into blood, topical applications on sores (ex. Herpes) and lesions, nasal sprays, and immune-globulin-like therapy/prophylaxis. Also, given that they can be specific to certain cell/viral receptors, these micelles can be used to deliver drugs to areas of the body that need it most.