Have Todd Rider And MIT Banned The Common Cold?

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Before the early part of the twentieth century most methods of treating infection were based on medical folklore. It’s true that in the nineteenth century Pasteur and Koch had observed and isolated various bacteria and postulated their connection to disease and some vaccines had been developed, but, by and large, medical researchers had failed to take up the challenge of curing bacterial infections. It wasn’t until the 1930’s with Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin that antibiotics were developed which attacked bacterial infections directly. This mass alleviation of disease and suffering has been hailed as one of the greatest developments in medicine.

 An equally momentous development  was recently  published in the July edition of the medical journal PLos One. MIT research scientist, Todd Rider, and his team have developed a broad spectrum anti-viral therapy which has worked in lab  trials with mice against all viruses to which it has been applied. These include the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.

The drug works by combining the human cells’ sensitivity to double stranded RNA produced by the invading viruses with long-standing medical knowledge about the cell’s reaction to various cancers .  Once a cell detects the dsRNA it produces antibodies which try– usually unsuccessfully– to prevent the virus from copying itself. Rider and his team took this natural defense and added another known defense to produce a molecular super cell defense. Knowing that humans cells release a protein in response to cancer cells which involves programmed cell suicide as the cancer attempts to metastasize, he joined the two defenses to produce a two stage silver bullet to fight viruses which he dubbed DRACOS (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers).

So far the therapy is completely successful. The discovery holds great promise for human viral diseases as Ebola, AIDS, even the flu and common colds.  In theory, the drug works on all viruses as each produce the same reaction in human cells through the dsRNA.  As for the risk of resistance, Rider finds it very unlikely to occur since viruses must use the long double stranded RNA to reproduce.

Imagine a world free from viral infections and maybe cancer — which some researchers have linked to viruses. That dream may have just started at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and Todd Rider’s name may be one placed along with Lister, Pasteur, Salk, and Koch, as great alleviators of human suffering. I hear Alfred Nobel calling.

Source: MIT News
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

22 thoughts on “Have Todd Rider And MIT Banned The Common Cold?”

  1. many experiments are being done now, notedly HIV research, which use humanized mice. It would be great to see DRACO used in humanized mice and see the results, as there is often a problem between results and animals. Proving effectivness in humanized mice would go a long way toward proving efficacy of the drug and soften safety concerns of adverse effects on humans.

  2. This is a welcome post for all kind of viruses. However, the thought of a complete cure for cancer is a light in a very dark place. If there is enough evidence fo success for curing cancer I would like to talk about the trial tretment.

  3. I wonder how long this will result in super-viruses with evolved resistance?

  4. From the MIT link:

    “This work is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, with previous funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Director of Defense Research & Engineering (now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering).”

    I read recently that the government still funds the majority of basic medical research in the country and that includes a bunch of medical-drug specific research. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m OK with it. That research is made public and much of it results in new drugs hitting the pharmacy shelves etc. Some research is partnered with industry. In any event, industry is to some good extent riding the governments (taxpayer) coattails when it comes to the R&D needed to stay at the top of the game in medical and drug innovation and progress.

    It is in the country’s interest to do this kind of long term, damn expensive research under the banner of a whole host of government bureaus, specifically because it’s long-term and expensive. One might question what interest DARPA might have but screw it, if their money helps cure AIDS and cancer, I’m not going to get exercised. Below is a CBO study on research costs that might be interesting and I put the broad money info and rationale up as an excerpt.

    I’d just like to take this opportunity to say “Thanks!” to that burdensome large, intrusive, jobs-killing, socialist, government for their part in this discovery. I hope it pans out.

    A S T U D Y
    OCTOBER 2006
    Research and
    Development in the

    from “INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY” starting at the bottom of page 2:

    “The Role of Federal Research and Development

    The federal government spent more than $25 billion on
    health-related R&D in 2005. Only some of that spend-
    ing is explicitly related to the development of new pharmaceuticals.
    However, much of it is devoted to basic
    research on the mechanisms of disease, which underpins
    the pharmaceutical industry’s search for new drugs.

    The primary rationale for the government to play a role
    in basic research is that private companies perform too
    little such research themselves (relative to what is best for
    society). In general, the information generated by basic
    research can be readily replicated at low cost. Thus, many
    of the benefits of that research accrue not to the company
    that performs it but to the public and to other firms.
    With pharmaceuticals, those spillover benefits can be significant
    because the development of new drugs depends
    on scientific advances. Federal funding of basic research
    directly stimulates the drug industry’s spending on
    applied research and development by making scientific
    discoveries that expand the industry’s opportunities for

    Government-funded basic research can also stimulate
    private-sector R&D indirectly. By supporting graduate
    students and postdoctoral researchers in academic labs
    where basic research is conducted, federal grants help to
    train many of the researchers who are hired by drug companies.
    That training enhances the productivity and profitability
    of the companies’ R&D investments, while also
    allowing researchers to command higher salaries. ….”


    ———-Weirdness and free-association break————
    I often search the acronyms and names within articles posted here and elsewhere just to see what comes up. I searched “DRACOS” figuring I’d find dragons, sure. The first actual link to “DRACOS” though was to the site linked below. Apparently one of the dozen or so types of ET’s that have infiltrated the Earth are reptilian beings that, with skin-suits etc., pass for Earthlings and occupy positions of high rank and power globally. The page linked is interesting in that it purports to show just how successful they have been but, there are ways to find out who they are: they have trouble concealing their fake noses which must be pasted on.

    A person more conspiratorially minded might draw some inference regarding the interest and funding by DARPA of the above research dubbed “DRACO”. I just see it as proof that in general, the country needs way more pharmaceuticals at low cost and liberally prescribed. 🙂

  5. Mark,

    I’m glad you posted on this story. When I originally read it this weekend, it was a highlight of good news. I do share David’s concern about overusing the technology though. Nature has proven time and again that it can adapt to whatever we throw at it. This has such enormous therapeutic potential, we should try to maximize the technique to take care of some of the really nasty stuff in the world and let the common cold run its course. And if Nobel isn’t calling? Shame on them.

  6. Blouise:

    For all my skepticism, I’ve got lots of well-grounded hope. We lurch along like a Model A with a bad carbeurator but there seems to be a path, a plan, and a prospective. When you’ve got one going to college in a few days and one ready to get out you have to think that way. 

  7. Robin:

    And you’re the reason we like to write. Thanks very much!

    Mike S:

    For some reason, the American press has ignored the story. I first heard about it on the BBC.

  8. Mark, my particular situation makes this a bit of news that is welcome. Thank you for posting it, because I had completely missed it. It made me think of the old, old joke common in my youth.

    A man walks into the doctor’s office with temperature, sniffles and a sore throat. The Doctor examines him and tells him to go home an sit on a block of ice for 12 hours. The man says “Doc, but won’t that give me pneumonia?”
    Doc answers “Yes it will. You have a cold right now which I can’t help you with, but I can cure pneumonia!”

  9. After reading about all the inane antics going on in this world, I opened this article and thought … there’s hope for us. Thanks, Mark … you’re up there with Eric’s Sunday in Paris.

  10. i think you should quiet your mind and let it tell you when its ok to use antibiotics! In certain people who have low inmunity(speelck) a small dose of antibiotics daily is better than no anti but no one listens!!!!! people with tuberculosis take antis for years !

  11. Since I am currently being treated for a cancer blamed on the HPV virus this is a very hopeful note for the future. On the other had, virii ability to evolve (sorry Nuttie & KlownD) makes me worry that is one or two manage to slip through & produce new strains of ‘super bugs’ like the over use of anti-biotics and pesticides have done.

  12. This is great news. I wonder about the ethics of using such a treatment for such non-life threatening diseases such as the common cold. For the common cold, it may be better to let mother nature handle the job.

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