Gold Nanotechnology Could Lead The Fight Against Ebola
With more than 1,700 cases reported across the world, the current outbreak of the Ebola virus is the worst in decades. There is currently no cure for Ebola, and with world health officials concerned at society's lack of readiness for a global event, researchers are using a number of experimental methods to try and combat the virus. One such researcher believes that nanotechnology could offer the breakthrough the world needs.
In a recent research paper, Northeastern University's Thomas Webster suggested that developing nanoparticles that can attach themselves to a virus and stop them from spreading could offer a realistic method to stem the spread of future viral outbreaks such as the one being seen in West Africa right now..
Gold nanoparticles are currently being tested with positive results in the fight against cancer and, according to Webster, it is these gold nanoparticles that are showing the most potential for a positive application for fighting ebola, too. To combat the virus, the nanoparticles are attached to the virus cells before infrared waves are used to heat the nanoparticles up to a level which destroys their new neighbors. Webster explains that by creating star-shaped nanoparticles out of gold, they are able to rapidly speed up the amount of time it takes to heat them.
"The star has a lot more surface area, so it can heat up much faster than a sphere can," Webster said. "And that greater surface area allows it to attack more viruses once they absorb to the particles."
If the infrared heating method does not ultimately prove successful, Webster an his team are working on another virus-fighting use for these golden nanoparticles in which they are used as decoy cells to prevent the virus from attacking healthy organic cells. But Webster and his team aren't the only group looking to use nanotechnology to find a cure for Ebola. In a recent statement, Nanoviricides inc. announced it would be dedicating a significant level of resource to researching a cure for Ebola.
"We are happy to restart the Ebola program, considering the public health impact of the Ebola virus infection," said CEO of Nanoviricides Inc. Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, "We are in a strong financial position now, enabling us to work on this project while we continue to advance our FluCide™ and DengueCide™ therapies further towards clinical trials. We hope to create highly effective drugs against Ebola, similar to what we have achieved with our FluCide™ Influenza drug candidate."