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Nanoparticle Traps Represent a Radical New Method for Treating Viral Infections

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Jan 2014
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Image: Virus-infected cells after treatment with Vecoy nanoparticles (indicated by arrows) (Photo courtesy of Vecoy Nanomedicines).
Image: Virus-infected cells after treatment with Vecoy nanoparticles (indicated by arrows) (Photo courtesy of Vecoy Nanomedicines).
An Israeli biotechnology start-up company is researching a radically different approach to the problem of preventing and curing viral infections.

Traditional drug treatment attempts to destroy viruses after they already have invaded host cells and caused significant damage by initiating the disease process (fever, nausea, diarrhea, etc.) in the infected individual. A radically new approach to cure viral infections is under development at Vecoy Nanomedicines (Kiryat Ono, Israel).

The Vecoy (a virus decoy) is an artificial nanoparticle coated with viral receptors. The virus reacts to the nanoparticle in the same way it would to a normal target cell, but once trapped inside, it is immobilized and prevented from spreading the infection. Thus, the Vecoy technology successfully addresses the two major challenges of current medication, namely, virus resistance to treatment and toxicity effects.

Results of cell-culture and preclinical studies in Vecoy’s laboratories demonstrate neutralization of 97% percent of viruses in culture with efficacy expected to rise as the technique is refined. The method is patent pending and funding is being secured to conduct animal trials.

“Viruses are one of the most polymorphic and resilient organisms out there,” said Dr. Erez Livneh, CEO of Vecoy Nanomedicines. “They are rapidly changing, and can change anything in their genome, either by changing their exterior so our immune system would not recognize them or by changing their enzymes so that the handful of drugs we have will not affect them anymore. With the current state of overpopulation of our planet and international flights, we are now prone more than ever before to new viral pandemics which will be very hard to contain, and it is just a matter of time. We had better be in a position where we can do something about it.”

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