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New antiviral made from sugar could help kill coronaviruses

A unique antiviral treatment has been made using sugar as the base active substance. The product has been demonstrated as capable of killing a treating a range of viruses under laboratory conditions, such as respiratory infections and genital herpes.

Manchester - As well as herpes simplex (cold sore virus), the new chemical formulation has been shown by British researchers to be capable of destroying respiratory syncytial virus, hepatitis C, HIV, and Zika virus. The formulation will also be effective against coronaviruses, indicating a wide spectrum of anti-viral activity.
The main application of the new product is for surface decontamination, such as a hospital area after a patient with a contractible viruses has been treated. Although there are long-established 'virucidal' products on the market, like bleach, these chemicals are very toxic to humans. This is why the idea of developing a virucide from sugar is an attractive idea - something that can destroy an array of viruses and yet, at the same time, shown to be non-toxic to humans.
University of Manchester (U.K.) scientists have demonstrated how modified sugar molecules can attack the outer shell of a virus, causing surface disruption and leading to infectious particles being destroyed. This happens almost instantaneously upon contact. With such an approach it is unlikely that anti-viral drug resistance will occur.
The modification of the sugar molecules was achieved using glucose derivatives termed cyclodextrins (produced from starch by enzymatic conversion). These molecules help to attract viruses towards the sugar molecule and then assist in breaking down the virus as it makes contact.
As principal scientist Dr Samuel Jones summarizes: "We have successfully engineered a new molecule, which is a modified sugar that shows broad-spectrum antiviral properties."
The new chemical is currently undergoing patent application, and it may have an additional use in terms of an additive to creams and ointments, to advance anti-viral killing, such as ointments sold in pharmacies to address conditions like herpes.
The novel chemical has been reported to the journal Science Advances. The peer reviewed paper is titled "Modified cyclodextrins as broad-spectrum antivirals."