Nanodecoys could provide additional protection against viruses

Decoy cells that are able to keep viruses away from human cells could help prevent infection.

By | August 24, 2000

LONDON, August 23 (SPIS MedWire). Decoy cells that are able to keep viruses away from human cells could help prevent infection. Researchers at the Center for Biologic Technology at the University of Michigan, USA, have created the artificial cells called nanodecoys. The cells are covered in sialic receptors that are able to bind viruses, thereby locking them and preventing them from replicating. Dr Donald Tomalia, Scientific Director, reported their findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington DC this week. Dr Tomalia pointed out that nanodecoys have a theoretical advantage over other treatments because they are able to combat the virus before infection occurs. So far, the nanodecoys have inhibited one particular virus from infecting human cells in the test tube, and trials in mice are to begin shortly. One problem that the team has faced is creating a non-toxic polymer to which the sialic receptors can be attached. Currently dendritic polymers are being used, but the large, branched nature of these molecules can affect the activity of the decoy cell. Research Fellow, Dr Roseita Esfand, concluded: "We hope that in the near future we will be able to use this strategy for more complex systems. Instead of targeting the virus, we will be targeting cell-specific receptors as a strategy to deliver therapy directly to a diseased site."

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