07.04.2014 change 07.04.2014

Antibiotic can fight viruses

One of the commonly used antibiotics may be helpful in the treatment of viral diseases, such as hepatitis and polio, demonstrated Dr. Kamila Stokowa-Sołtys from the University of Wrocław. The research is at a preliminary stage, but the results are promising.

"It is well known that antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections, and their task is to combat bacterial infections. We tried to break the stereotype" - told Dr. Kamila Stokowa-Sołtys from the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Wrocław.

As part of her doctoral project she conducted research on the properties of antibiotics, including bacitracin. "Bacitracin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. We have found its new use and properties. We discovered that bacitracin can degrade RNA of viruses" - explained the researcher.

As a result - said Dr. Stokowa-Sołtys - it can be used in the treatment of diseases of viral origin and combat RNA viruses, including hepatitis, polio or HIV. Topical application can help combat rapidly proliferating DNA viruses, such as herpes virus.

She admitted that during the study, the researchers that tested a huge number of antibiotics and none of them showed similar properties. "It was surprising that one compound of such a large group behaved differently" - she said.

" Our invention is only two years old. For now, we know that bacitracin destroys RNA viruses, but we have only begun to investigate why exactly it has these unique properties. So far we conducted an in vitro study, studies on living organisms are long way ahead. It also entails the increase in expenditures. Preliminary results, however, are very promising" - said Dr. Stokowa-Sołtys.

The advantage of the proposed solution is the fact that this compound has been known for many years and approved for use in humans and animals - which is the advantage over newly synthesized chemical compounds, which need to undergo lengthy testing procedures before they can be approved for use as a medicine. "It\'s actually a new indication of an old drug" - said Dr. Stokowa-Sołtys.

New application of bacitracin is the subject of Polish and international patent application. "This is only the beginning of our long road. The time between the invention of a drug, and putting it on pharmacy shelves, is about 15 years" - emphasised the researcher.

Dr. Kamila Stokowa-Sołtys conducted research on the use of the antibiotic for the degradation of undesirable RNA within in the project "Biotechnologies and advanced medical technologies - BioMed" of the Wroclaw Research Centre EIT+. The researcher was awarded the first prize in the competition "Innovation is a Woman". She will represent Poland at the 17th Moscow International Salon of Inventions and Innovation Technologies "Archimedes 2014".

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska

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