IBM Have Created A 'Magic Bullet' Which Could Fight Off Everything From Flu To Zika

Nanotechnology can do some pretty incredible things.

13/05/2016 12:23

IBM has unveiled a 'magic bullet' chemical which could finally kill off viruses like Zika, Ebola, Influenza and more.

This bioengineered 'macromolecule' has the ability to universally protect against viruses irrespective of their ability to mutate.

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Tackling viruses like Zika is an extremely difficult task in part because they can adapt - sidestepping the drugs that have been designed to attack them.

This ability to mutate is arguably a virus' main weapon before it latches onto the cell, and to this day it remains very difficult to circumnavigate.

So IBM didn't, instead they started from scratch and looked for a similarity that all viruses shared, irrespective of how they attacked the body. 

What they found was that all viruses have this protective coating, made of glycoproteins which allow them to stick onto normal cells.

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Nanotechnology has the ability to create new molecules and potentially in the future, minute robots which can enter the bloodstream.

IBM's macromolecule turns itself into a magnet for the virus, attracting it and then stopping its ability to infect healthy cells.

Then it starts getting to work, neutralising the acidity levels inside the virus cells making it virtually impossible for the virus to replicate.

Finally it contains a sugar called mannose which then attracts the immune system's cells to the virus, helping the body fight off the remaining cells effectively.


Work on this 'magic bullet' started 12 years ago when IBM formed a partnership with Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

To make sure that the final product wasn't a fluke scientists tested it on a range of different viruses including Ebola, dengue, Marburg, influenza and Enterovirus 71 and found that in all cases there was no resistance.

Dr. Yi Yan Yang, Group Leader, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore said "Viral diseases continue to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality,"

"We have created an anti-viral macromolecule that can tackle wily viruses by blocking the virus from infecting the cells, regardless of mutations. It is not toxic to healthy cells and is safe for use. This promising research advance represents years of hard work and collaboration with a global community of researchers."

In the short-term, these macromolecules could be used in an anti-viral wet wipe that when applied could neutralise Ebola from an entire room.

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