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Author Topic: DRACO: Death to the Virus  (Read 6336 times)

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Offline AlexMerida

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DRACO: Death to the Virus
« on: November 25, 2011, 04:26:53 PM »

A Status quo persists in all the sciences, we have here a clearly example of it .


DRACO: Death to the Virus
by doug  —  November 17, 2011

In a paper published 27 July [1], researchers from MIT reported successful tests in mice with a new drug that holds the promise of being a cure to all viruses. The drug, DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer), works as a “broad-spectrum” antiviral, killing virus-hijacked cells by targeting double-stranded RNA produced in the viral replication process. DRACO proved successful against all 15 viruses tested “including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.” [2]
We may expect results from cell trials against AIDS within the next 12 months.

DRACO is but one broad-spectrum therapeutic being developed as part of a project called PANACEA (Pharmacological Augmentation of Nonspecific Anti-pathogen Cellular Enzymes and Activities) headed by Dr. Todd Rider, senior staff scientist in MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group.

I met with Dr. Rider in the food court of the MIT co-op bookstore early on a weekday. He had already finished tending to his mice and, after we chatted, he rose to declare that he off to do “real work”… writing grant proposals to keep his research alive.


Could you give us a broad overview of the Panacea project?

Sure. We’ve come up with a broad-spectrum antiviral that we call DRACO, Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (I love acronyms), and it’s basically designed to detect any long double stranded RNA, so we’ve created chimeric proteins where one end will detect the chimeric RNA — the double-stranded RNA — and then the other end will trigger apoptosis, or cell suicide. So the net effect is that these DRACO molecules can go inside all the cells in your body, or at this moment, inside all the cells in a mouse, and if they don’t find anything, then they don’t do anything. But if they find a viral infection, if they find a viral double-stranded RNA, then that will activate the back ends to trigger cell suicide, and that will kill the infected cell. That terminates the infection.

So there wouldn’t be a difference between DNA Viruses and RNA Viruses?

It works with both. We’ve tested it on both. All known viruses make double-stranded RNA, and that’s true from the literature and also true from our experiments. So here (indicating illustration) the viruses we tested included a couple DNA viruses, and it worked quite nicely against those. Others in the literature are also known to make quite a bit of double-stranded RNA. Other DNA viruses, like pox viruses and herpes viruses, also make double-stranded RNA.

Has it been tested on each family of virus?

It’s been tested on these families of viruses so far (indicating paper). There are a gazillion viruses, so we’re working our way through them as quickly as we can. It’s been tested on several very different families so far.

My understanding is that viruses usually kill the cell anyway, but retroviruses usually do not. I don’t know how viruses cluster. Are there any odds at all that there would be a retrovirus that clusters too tightly in a certain organ where it [triggered cell death by DRACO] would cause a lesion?

Virtually all viruses will kill the host cell on the way out. Of the hand-full that don’t, your own immune system will try to kill those infected cells. So we’re really not killing any more cells with our appraoch than we already have been. It’s just that we’re killing them at an early enough stage before they infect and ultimately kill more cells. So if anything this limits the amount of cell death.

So that’s not really a legitimate fear.

It shouldn’t be.

How far along are you and how far away are you from human trials?

Unfortunately quite a long way. We’ve done a number of tests in mice. We need to do more testing in mice. Of course, MIT is not a pharmaceutical company. There’s only so far we can take it at MIT. We’re hoping to license it to some pharmaceutical company, and they would carry to larger-scale animal trials. Usually the FDA wants to see a lot of mouse trials, which we’ve done already; and then a lot of trials in, say, rabbits or guinea pigs, and then trials in monkeys before they approve human trials. So, if a licensee takes this, if we have funding for it, it still might take a decade or so before it really is available for humans.

So how’s the funding working now?

We have funding from NIH [National Institutes of Health].

And can you take it up to monkey here [at MIT]?

We may be able to take it into further animal models here, but mice are the easiest thing to use. We have a lot of mice. We’re also limited by funding. We only haved NIH funding at the moment, and we only have enough funding for about 1 person, and we have 4 people total, counting me, working at the moment, so we’ve split the funding four different ways…

Has anybody reached out to you?

Nope. Not so far.

When I first read about this I thought this was an amazing story, that this would be front-page news in a couple of hours. Weeks later, I was thinking this must not have been a true story. That’s when I looked it up again and saw that it was indeed on the MIT site. What’s the relative lack of interest. There haved been articles, but I feel this is definitely front-page material.

Well thank you. On the funding front, I think there’s a ton of funding for very basic research — not applied research, trying to cure something, but basic research — Let’s go study this virus, see how this virus works in a little more detail. There’s a ton of NIH funding for that. On the applied front, if you are ready for human trials — so you’re 10 years more advanced than we are now — then there are government agencies and companies that will take it and take it to that final step. But in that long gap in between there’s very very little funding out there. So we’ve been struggling for all of 11 years now just working to get funding, and at the moment we’re just barely limping along.

This is a subset of PANACEA, right? Can you describe PANACEA?

PANACEA is a family of broad-spectrum anti-pathogen treatments. We’ve tested some others, we’ve tried to get funding for others. This [DRACO] is the one that is furthest along.

What are some of the others that look promising?

We have a number of others. [DRACO] is a broad-spectrum antiviral. We have other broad-spectrum antivirals. We also have other PANACEA treatments that we’ve adapted to go after other things. Like for bacteria. And of course there are antibiotics, but for bacteria that are resistant to existing antibiotics, such as tuberculosis, malaria… so we can adapt this to pathogens other than viruses. We’ve done some initial experiments, we just can’t get funding for that so far.

Do you foresee any potential wild-cards in the human trials?

It’s always difficult to tell what will happen. I hope that there won’t be. We’re always concerned that there will be some toxicity or other unforeseen problems. We’ve been very pleased every step of the way in the cell testing. We’ve tested in a number of different human cell types representing many different organs; human lung cells, human liver cells, all kinds of different human cells, as well as a variety of animal cells. We haven’t seen any toxicity or any other strange effects in any of those cell types. In the mice we were again very concerned about toxicity, and we haven’t seen any toxicity in the mice. We inject the mice with very high doses of the stuff daily for a number of days, and they seem fine. We let them move for a while, eventually we dissected them, looked at the tissues. All the tissues were fine, there’s no organ damage or anything. It’s always possible something unexpected could come up further down the road in monkies or in humans. We certainly hope not. But I think there is enough flexibility in the concept that even if there were a problem, there are ways to redesign the constructs that we have to overcome any potential problems.

That might also speak to the production cost. Is it fairly low production cost if, say, it was to be mass-produced in the future?

These are produced in bacteria, and at the moment I really don’t know what the ultimate production cost would be. We produce on a very small scale, barely enough for our mice. Of course cells eat a lot less DRACO than mice do. So if we’re producing for cells, that’s a very small quantity, but just a few flasks of bacteria will produce enough to last us for a while. But once you scale this up to a large-scale production large-scale animal trials or human trials, hopefully the cost would go down. I don’t know exactly what the cost would be.

Do you envision the final end-plan to be people with DRACO in their medicine cabinet, or more like penicillin today?

If it’s safe I’d like to see it used as much as possible for as many different things as possible. I would guess that if it were approved for human use by the FDA, initially they would be conservative enough that they would only want to see it used in very dire cases, just in case there are interesting side-effects or something, and it’s only to people with ebola or HIV that’s become resistant to other drugs who would get this. If this proved to be safe in those cases, then I would hope that they’d approve it for wider use against more common pathogens, perhaps all the way down to the common cold. And if it really is safe, then maybe you’d just pop a DRACO pill any time you felt a cold coming on.

How long does it stay in the system? It’s obviously not a vaccine –

Right. In cells it lasts at least for a couple of weeks, possibly longer. In the mice it lasts for at least 2 days. We have a lot of data in the paper showing it will persist in mice for at least 48 hours at fairly high doses in the tissues. This is really about trying to optimize that. There are a lot of tricks we can use to try to make it last longer if necessary. And if this stuff is truly completely safe, then you can give it prophylactically. You could even concievably give someone the gene for the DRACO so that their cells would just permanently produce the DRACO, and they would naturally be resistant to almost everything.

Oh, wow. That’s an amazing idea.


I feel like this is something that should be fast-tracked. We have all this planning in regards to epidemics. There is all kinds of scare that we’re ripe for an epidemic.

Perhaps we will be [approached with funding offers] in the future, but so far we haven’t been. We’ve really struggled along for the past 11 years, barely getting enough funding to stay alive.

So this has been on the table, at least as an idea, for 11 years?

Right. We just got good data from the mouse trials and published that, but 11 years ago we started engineering the DRACOs. Genetic engineering was a bit more primative in those days, so it took us a while to actually produce these things. Then it took us a while to produce and test them in cells. We ultimately tested against 15 different viruses in cells. As I said, we were kind of limping along for funding for much of that time, so we could only work on it when we had funding to work on it. For some fraction of our time, we had funding to work on it. Eventually, we were able to test against the 15 different viruses in cells in 11 different cell types. And then we had funding to do some mouse trials, got data, and then we got published.

If you get a cold this winter… are you going to be tempted?

I’m not tempted by colds. I’ve had very bad stomach viruses and I’ve been tempted to give myself the stuff to see what would happen.

You don’t think you’ll do that, though?

It wouldn’t be enough anyway. We only produce enough for mice, and for a human you require a much larger dose than for a 20 gram mouse.


Offline AlexMerida

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 02:45:08 PM »
DRACO should work againt all virus (Dr. Todd Rider)


why to wait so long to see if a cure is efective or not

 DRACO must not follow the same way (path) like  ARV when they were aproved

Offline georgep77

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 11:36:42 PM »
This the FDA approval process for a new drug:

Come on Sangamo,  Geovax,  Bionor immuno, ...Make us happy !!!
+ 2008

Offline AlexMerida

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 12:41:22 PM »
Yes thank you for your reply,

I hope things should move faster specially with DRACO.

Unfortunatelly DRACO is not  considered among the most promising aproachs.....(by the academia)

You can reed  "A Primer on What’s Up With Cure Research"


all the apoaches have a good part and a bad part (risks)....

but with DRACO i do not see the risk and it has not been given much atention!

DRACO was inventend for one of the most brillants minds, Dr. Todd Rider udestand quanton mechanics and phisics and  have resolve a problem (real) with his last proyect CANARY. his theory it did work.

Offline leatherman

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 01:18:47 PM »
but with DRACO i do not see the risk and it has not been given much atention!
not to dissuade you from you enthusiasm but DRACO has only been demonstated to work in petri dishes and mice. There's a long way and still a lot of science to go before it can be seen to be viable enough to promote as "the cure" to everything that ails you.
Over the last 30 yrs of HIV research, at the stage of the game that DRACO is at there have been countless cures and vaccines that looked like they could acheive the goal; but as you know, none of those panned out. (just claiming it to be the miracle cure that the doctor says it may be should give anyone pause and make them think in the end this drug may end up with serious flaws) Sadly, as laymen we have to sit back and bide our time because time is what it takes for the science to properly move forward to perfect any drug. Time for research, time for trials, time for human trials - and that's even when fast-tracked (a method that doesn't find long-term usage flaws of a drug).

Even if DRACO is the solution, proper testing and developement means it'll be close to 2 decades before a DRACO cure enters the market - and that is all dependent on whether or not the drug works properly in humans and doesn't cause any worse damage.

as a quick example, in 1993, my first late partner was part of a clinical trial. That means the drug has already passed numerous tests and had moved into the human trials stage. What they found out was that although the drug did drastically reduce viral load, it only did it for about a 12-wk period and then became ineffective - plus it turned over half the patients a very carrot-y orange. Sometimes that's how it goes though. A drug may seem to be great but then human trial results from several months to several years turns up a serious flaw that negates the drug being worthwhile.

so keep up your enthusiasm for research and the hunt for a cure; but please take these reports and "wild" claims from researchers with a grain of salt too, and let time and protocol show the way. Oh! and learn about current ARVs because you'll be needing them in the 2 decades before DRACO saves us all. ;) :D
leatherman (aka mIkIE)

chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.

"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Miserables

Offline AlexMerida

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2011, 09:57:03 PM »
Hi Michael !

Thank you very much for your reply

The successful experiments in Petri dishes  and mice are successful and is a very good beginning. These experiments have demonstrated a theory that previously was conceived. The theory was proven forcefully, not only with all the mice and also worked in all the Petri dishes and with all the virus as it were expected.
The question is not…. if it is going to work in humans, or not….. this is peccata minuta
The principle or the state-of-the-art was proven; it is a universal principle that goes beyond any type of virus… Nobody had had until now this novel idea (this idea recognized by the own Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the NIAID). It is but Dr. Fauci said that there was no the necessity that this treatment focused in HIV since for this there are very good treatments, that better it is to try (test)  this drug for other infections where a good treatment is not in hand.

The beautiful one of this approach is  that the same compound   was designed to any type of virus (without adjustment)  to only recognize cells with virus whatever this outside. It is the same platform, without nothing ahead nor nothing behind ( booster, etc) .
DARCO is above of the kind of Virus and the virologist recognized (Karla Kirkegaard, Ph.D. form Stanford University School of Medicineother) that she do not see any way how the virus can show resistance.
Dr. Fauci since 1996 recognized the weakness of ARV against the virus (resistance problem)
Here we could abound much more but for example when Einstein proposed its theory of relativity (1905), the majority of the academic community of its time did not believe to him, until others proved their works (they spent many years so that its work was tried by other investigators who if they believed in his theory, 1919)
but most important that even today few could understand this theory
I am very sure that only few Dr. (in medicine) could understand this theory
A common doctor  in medicine  clearly they do not have it the physical and mathematical and algebraic tools (and with this I do not offend the many of medical friendly that I have).
Finally the idea is that a theory was proven forcefully without the use of complicated statistic. DRACO will work equal for the entire virus had and by having. This discovery came from a Dr. that is not doctor in medicine. It did not come from the interest of the community neither from the magnificent congresses which my medical friendly usually attend.Of course that there is a great way, to cross but the unique thing that I ask it is to accelerate given it the conditions of the experiment.
DRACO is not toxic (in mice nor in human tissues)
All the ARV are toxic to a certain extent in all the alive beings (including human tissues in dishes of Petri), but these drugs follow their way (clinical trials) in the studies to prioritize their pharmacological effect (the effect of the drug is but important) . They requires much years as you  say because not only it is required to verify that the ARV is effective but what could in the long term be its effect.

The ARV is for all the life, that  is why the studies must take many years , that good that it is thus.
Now they go away with more care since there is because the general concept that the problem has been reduced to a chronic disease ( for people who can afforded..yes,  like  if everybody have access to the expensive ARV). DRACO is not toxic in human tissues, clearly is the most remote possibility that could be toxic in a live. The case is that although the ARV are toxic, its last effect is prioritized to prolong the life. DRACO must like principle remove the viral infection.
At first  the first years of the HIV the protocols to prove anything (interferon and many other) where the state-of-the-art was not very clear but due to the necessity and to the urgency it tried on with patients who of all forms were going to die. Thanks to this  people took risks we have what today we have. Now there is the idea that HIV is not a death sentence and that is no the necessity to destine money for the cure, for several reasons one is because all the community does not believe scientific it possible, create it to others but that thousands of years, others think that it is possible but about 50 years and another one of plane they do not think that is possible.
Again HIV is a death sentence for the great majority of people who do not have access to ARV.
Whichever times the humanity has obtained something that before was believed impossible. Clearly now it has as an interest to help or to stimulate the cure. It can have many reasons for this from fashion, to the economic aspect. Nevertheless Now (after many years) almost the money are already being closed to support cures with more drug You can see here it: Great challenges to eradicate and to cure the HIV. Nevertheless more intensification of the DRUG schemes surprises the declaration Not. Therefore the Dr. Marnolis (positioned very well by the way) is outside as much academic play as scientifically. Please review its work by God! Dr. Marnolis (He plans to try  a drug very toxic.)
To DRACO it does not matter to him where the reservoir is.
By the way, there is a full congress in HIV  reservoir and persistence.

Here it is the problem in confusing the previous attempts of cures with DRACO. No on the attempts (the serious attempts are very few) had the real acceptance of the community since from the beginning it was handled and it is continued handling the disease like incurable.
He is humorous but we have a treatment that of very ingenious forms stops somewhere of cycle of HIV but without killing or eliminating the HIV. It is because you feed something but without killing it. In fact with this concept there was people who thought that in years with ARV it was possible one to be cured. All this really did not have a scientific foundation knowing that the virus as all were in the DNA of the cells.
With some serious errors the cure looked for. With vaccines it is another history of errors or disagreements and would be very fascinated to discuss why they have failed. (is is been published) . Generally all the vaccines do not take into account or disarticulate the mutant capacity of the virus. Vaccines and new drugs take much as you say it very well (with rigid protocols) and generally they are using concepts that no longer apply and most serious they can be using concepts that are false before the new big wave of shortages that have occurred recently. for that reason the disappointment. (Projects that often does not have a forceful result… advances) for diverse reasons. (Political Questions, statistic, etc, I interest) . what is science? that the scientific method?
 DRACO is not to miracle there are (it dog sees explained with facts) and DARCO is proposed by to physics (and MIT do not send and work in miracles). There is no reason so that DRACO is not in the Market in a year. If you have read the history of the vaccine of influenza H1N1 was not approved passing through the standards of the FDA and the WHO, and even though this vaccine was developed in just a short time, that is to say idea was not had, it was elaborated and it was in the market in a year.
As a society we cannot press to the academy to solve the problem. The only thing that we can do is to press  to the academy at least to try  . We cannot control or demand either to resolve the riddle. The academic community  can or not to find the solution and are no terms. The solution could be today or in 10 years or never to arrive. This does not depend on us. Nevertheless one you see that the riddle has been solved there is no reason to wait for more

As you say it well, the people who proceeded to us ran many risks (did not know much) and the risks that the people who proceeded to us we have them today benefit. Many took the risk without really knowing that it was going to him to pass many took the risk devising with it to improve were in many cases desperate attempts. There were many reasons and there is still it very meticulously to study drugs that are toxic since very well they are going away to take all the life and mainly it knows that they are toxic still in Petri boxes. Nevertheless the study continued.
The patient took risks taking something that was known that toxic. DRACO could be taken for a month. DRACO could be eliminated in  days.  But this therapy does not have contemplated that is used like therapy for humans for all the life. The worse thing that can happen with DRACO is that  does not kill  any virus in vivo. In the early times of HIV an experimental DRUG endless number and treatments tried on… many of them without solid scientific base…. It would not be worth  to do the same with this medicine? DRACO  has a very solid scientific base. I would be first in forming to get some… that great is my confidence and that great it is my desperation so that I do not see much interested people. Already there is a theory! One cannot accelerate that from or not a discovery, that taking years and years and often are not arrived at anything thus is science. But in this case the great jump already occurred.. You say “let Time and protocol show the way” I refuse to follow or to accept the time and the protocols of the scientific academy that now prevails. They are little sensible (today more than ever people with HIV die) clearly they die so that they are poor and they do not have ARV.
Finally I am thankful for much your commentaries to you and your time and your respect help to clarify my ideas me.
Hopefully and all we would be activist with the great activism and enthusiasms of Kramer a great opponent to the system (today friend of the Dr. Fauci).

Finally what can you do with mucho money and good friends…..
Dr. Marnolis working with a consortium.  He is working in trying to resolve a puzzle (some else have already done)
it received much money to look for something that has severe lagoons! The same says puzzle to it… Much people  are working  in toxic drugs and no this provided one that are used by three days.
It not at all has promising results neither in dishes nor in monkeys nor in humans. This approach goes against the “Great challenges for the eradication of the HIV” that prohibits the DRUG intensification Without a state-of-the-art of why one thinks that infection of the virus can be eliminated it “THIS IS SERIOUS”
 I believe that when there are another more viable and mainly more promising less dangerous options (total remission) is due to prioritize!

Things are complicated…..but Tod Rider has done his part, unfortunately it comes the more complicated part (it should not be this way), trying to fight against the status quo.


The discovery of penicillin is attributed to Alexander Fleming in 1928 and Penicillin was being mass-produced in 1944

Fact. It took almost nearly two years to recognize that HIV is the cause of AIDS.  With the influenza It only took  one year to recognize the gens and develop the vaccine and was delivered to people (all of this in one year).

Offline ichigo_kun

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2012, 03:32:22 PM »
someone asking for petition , lets help push draco to success..

Fund research of DRACO, MIT developed drug that might safely and quickly kill all viruses, including HIV & herpes.
A strong possibility of completely curing viral infections from common cold to HIV and herpes needs funding. MIT Lincoln Laboratory has developed DRACO, an anti-viral drug that was proven effective and perfectly safe for ALL tested viruses in cell and mice trials.

The development has slowed significantly over the past 11 years due to difficulty of getting grants for the next stage of research, & the commercial pharma investors prefer lifelong treatments.

Administration should fund DRACO research & do whatever is possible to speed up the development and possible approval of the drug that could save millions from death and lifelong misery as well as save millions in healthcare costs. Biological warfare defense possibilities are also significant.

MIT: http://www.ll.mit.edu/news/DRACO.html

Created: Mar 29, 2012
Issues: Health Care, Homeland Security and Disaster Relief, Science and Space Policy
Learn about Petition Thresholds

Offline georgep77

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2012, 03:50:21 PM »

Come on Sangamo,  Geovax,  Bionor immuno, ...Make us happy !!!
+ 2008

Offline Anxious2012

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2012, 04:14:03 PM »

Offline AlexMerida

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2012, 06:01:54 PM »
Why to bother to develop a special sophisticated key…just to open one kind of door…….
If you could make a master key than can open all doors….

ARV are the most sophisticated medicine ever developed in a very short periods of time… :)
HIV is not hiding….it is (and remains) where it was always, why ARV will not change that becuase ARV were not designed to kill HIV or to kill infected cells.

I really did not understand why in the past…”some HIV researchers believed than with many years the body with the help of ARV…the body will get rid of HIV”

Offline dpb

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Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2012, 07:23:01 PM »

I remember reading about DRACO several months ago.  There is no good reason why such promising research is not receiving the funding it needs.

I will be forwarding this petition to others, and hope that anyone who reads this will sign and do the same.  This could greatly benefit everyone; not just those of us with HIV.
Date        CD4    %    VL
1/15/11    Diagnosed
3/1/11    525    18    168,518
5/12/11    558    16    331,791
5/16/11    Started Atripla
5/31/11    NA    NA    1,200
6/15/11    721    21    330
7/15/11    649    23    231
8/15/11    569    25    UD
11/17/11  752    26    UD
3/1/12    634    27    UD
7/2/12    594    26    UD
2/13       676    30    UD
9/13       662    31    UD

Offline Mycen

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  • Posts: 11
Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2012, 11:29:15 PM »

Offline geobee

  • Member
  • Posts: 237
Re: DRACO: Death to the Virus
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 01:20:37 PM »
Interesting interview on WHYY's Fresh Air Program -- Carl Zimmer talks about Draco and other efforts to develop broad spectrum anti-virals.  Worth a listen.



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