Nanoparticle Designed to Destroy Harmful Viruses

An international team of researchers has created new antiviral nanoparticles that show potential for outperforming current antiviral drugs.

Current broad-spectrum antiviral drugs ward off viruses but don't actually destroy them, whereas the newly designed nanoparticles have been shown the ability to kill off harmful viruses in testing.

How the nanoparticles work

The virus-eliminating nanoparticles mimic a cell surface protein called heparin sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG), a protein through which many viruses such as HIV enter and infect healthy cells by binding to HSPGs on the cell surface.

Current drug therapies that mimic HSPG adhere to viruses and thus prevent them from binding to cells. When the bond between the drug and virus becomes weak, the virus can enter the cell. Unlike current drugs, however, the new nanoparticles are able to bind more tightly to a virus and are also capable of killing it.

Technique for designing the nanoparticles

The researchers relied on advanced computational modeling to generate precise structures of various target viruses and nanoparticles down to the location of each atom.

In vitro experiments showed that the nanoparticles bound irreversibly to the herpes simplex virus, human papilloma virus, Dengue virus and others.

For more details about this broad-spectrum antiviral nanoparticle, see the researchers' published work in Nature Materials.