In this episode of Contagious Thinking, Elihu and Connor talk with Steve Polyak from the University of Washington in Seattle USA about how some drugs stop viruses from infecting us. In particular, we chat about his work on a drug Arbidol that can block many viruses and is actually an over-the-counter medicine in Russia and China.
All life lives in a sea of viruses, and some of those viruses can make us sick. Humans have thus developed many ways to stop these rare viruses causing illness. One major important example is vaccines. Another example is a class of medicines called antivirals that stop a virus from making new viruses when they get inside our cells.
Some of these antivirals can control an infection successfully for the lifetime of an individual, like with HIV and others – like for hepatitis C virus, an important longterm infection – can cure an infection so that there is no more virus in your body.
But have you ever wondered what it takes to make antiviral drugs? Steve gives us a glimpse of the work scientists worldwide do to understand how small molecules can mess with viruses.
Steve is in the UK as a Cheney Fellow at the University of Leeds where he’s working with Professor Mark Harris and others. Steve’s lab’s investigations focus on the important work of pinning down the mechanism by which Arbidol and other similar drugs can attack lots of different viruses. Here Steve also dishes out lots of important advice for scientists young and old.
Find out more about Steve’s Arbidol work here: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26739045
And find out more about the work being carried out at the Centre for Virus Research here: www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/iii/cvr/