Ending the Pandemic?
How a recent unsung discovery might lead to a cure for Coronavirus…
Covid-19 has brought our modern world to its knees. There is barely a country, town or village on the planet that has not been affected by the disease and its restrictions. For over a year now we have been engaged in a global battle against an invisible enemy with no respect for human life, institutions or borders.
The trouble with the Coronavirus is that it is what it says on the tin — a virus. Life would be so different if the spiky invader was a bacterium.
Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms, which vary in shape and structure. There are a lot of them in the world — about five million, trillion, trillion. (That’s five with 30 zeros). They live in the human body and the environment but only a handful cause diseases. (Think pneumonia, salmonella and strep throat for example.)
Bacteria have some similarities to human cells, but also some crucial differences. Targeting those differences without harming human cells is the main basis for treatment with antibiotics.
With viruses it’s a different story.
There are a lot of viruses too, about ten times more than bacteria. It is estimated the earth contains about 10 nonillion (10 to the 31st power) of them. That’s such a high number, it’s hard to visualize, so think of it this way: there are more viruses on earth than grains of sand on all the world’s beaches. They are woven into the fabric of our world as inextricably as atoms or energy.
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and need living tissue or host cells to reproduce. Once inside they use the cell’s processes to replicate their own genetic material. During this hijack they may kill the cell, change it, or damage it.
Because the virus and the cell are so interconnected, it is very difficult to target the invader with antivirals without also killing the host cell. Just as with bacterial infection, you want to intervene at the points of difference. The problem is that there are so…