Thursday, October 16, 2014

Scientists Discover First ‘Virological Penicillin’ - MIR2911

       This is a post more about sensationalist titles. I first read the title thinking, "wow, cool a drug that can be used against multiple viruses just like how Penicillin was effective against many bacteria infections." Upon reading the article however, I found that the only thing that makes MIR2911 similar to Penicillin is the fact that it is naturally derived. MIR2911, microRNA2911, is found naturally in honeysuckle. A team of researchers from Nanjing University have found that MIR2911 is an active component in targeting various influenza viruses. There is no evidence of MIR2911 having broad effects on other viruses as it was only tested on a few influenza viruses. I'm honestly surprised the authors and journal editors (for Cell Research) allowed this to go through. Penicillin was only in the title of the secondary source, but it was still mentioned in the original article too.

    However, there are some novel and interesting things about MIR2911. This microRNA directly targets PB2 and NS1, two genes that are necessary for viral replication in influenza viruses. It directly binds to the RNA genes and prevents them from being translated. This sounds very promising;  however it is unlikely that it can be broadly applied to other viruses simply because they have different genes. Hopefully, this can lead to discovery of other microRNA therapies against other viruses.

Actual article - primary source:

- Jimmy Jiang

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