11/08/2011 12:12 BST | Updated 11/10/2011 10:12 BST

New ‘Wonder Drug’ Could Cure Viruses From Common Cold To HIV

A new drug has been developed that could be the biggest breakthrough in medicine since the discovery of penicillin.

The broad-spectrum treatment for viruses, known as DRACO, targets infected cells inducing them to self-destruct, preventing the spread of the virus.

Developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S, the new drug is expected to treat a whole range of viruses including human rhinoviruses - the bugs behind half of colds in adults and almost all colds in children - German measles, measles, flu, rabies, polio, cold sores, a stomach bug, dengue fever and even HIV.

Researcher, Mike Rider told The Daily Mail: “It’s certainly possible that there’s some virus that we aren’t able to treat but we haven’t found it yet.

“The discovery of antibiotics revolutionised the treatment of bacterial infections and we hope that this will revolutionise the treatment of viral infections.

“There aren’t very many anti-viral drugs out there at the moment.”

The new ‘wonder drug’ not only halts the infection but finishes the job by then killing the infected cells. In laboratory tests DRACO killed 15 viruses and completely cured mice that had been infected with influenza. Tests also indicated that the drug could ward off viruses, so that it could prevent people from becoming infected in the first place.

It is expected the drug would need to undergo years of testing before it is available to the UK market but it could be on shelves within a decade.