Summer Olympics in Brasil and a Young Man’s Thoughts Turn to Sex
But is it safe? Thanks to a growing endemic threat of Zika virus in Brasil, you can’t be sure. No one wants to be condemned to death — or to a lifetime of illness — from acting on a human urge as basic and spontaneous as the sexual drive. Human societies are paying a larger and larger price for viral hitch-hikers that come with the thrills — and outlast their welcome.
But fortunately, scientists like sex too, and they are moving ahead at full speed in an effort to make sex safe at the olympics this year for athletes and visitors.
Exhibit A: Anti-Zika Condoms
The Zika epidemic has taken Brazil by storm last year, prompting WHO to declare the virus as a global health emergency.
In line with this, the Australian Olympic Committee announced few days ago that special anti-viral condoms will be given to athletes in order to curb the spread of the Zika virus.
Good luck to girl athletes in getting native Brasilian men to wear the things.
Big Gun Research Aimed at Zika
A viral protein known as NS5 is a promising target for vaccines against Zika and related viruses, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists and colleagues at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. Their study, published online May 19, 2016 in Cell Host & Microbe, suggests that altering or removing the NS5 protein from Zika virus would allow the human body’s own immune defenses to attack the virus. The study found that NS5 prevents Zika virus-infected human cells from signaling immune system cells to make interferon, a powerful antiviral protein.
The vaccines and antivirals will be too late for Rio, so you’d better stock up on the condoms.
It is not only Zika that makes sex risky these days. HIV, Herpes, Hep B, Hep C, HPV, and other viruses present a threat to the exercise of the natural instincts of youth and adulthood. Which means we must look at the bigger viral picture.
According to Senior Analyst, states that: “Some 1,848 pipeline products are specifically in development for the treatment of viral infections, accounting for a sizeable proportion of the infectious diseases pipeline. Among these products, HIV has the most at an active stage of development, with 419, followed by influenza, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B, with 333, 222 and 150 pipeline products, respectively. __ http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2947275
A Broad-Spectrum Viral Blocker is Desperately Needed
A new approach to blocking viral infection and systemic spread may provide a large part of the answer:
Molecular docking computations revealed an unexpected, and general, specific hydrogen-bonding interactions with viral surface proteins, and virus and cell binding assay demonstrated a significant reduction in infection after incubating virus or cells with the antiviral polymers. Moreover, the mannose-functionalized macromolecules effectively prevented the virus from infecting the immune cells. Representative viruses from each category including dengue, influenza, Chikungunya, Enterovirus 71, Ebola, Marburg, and herpes simplex were surveyed, and viral infection was effectively prevented at polymer concentrations as low as 0.2 mg/L with very high selectivity (>5000) over mammalian cells. The generality of these cooperative orthogonal interactions (electrostatic and hydrogen-bonding) provides broad-spectrum antiviral activity.
This approach is still in the early stages, but already it suggests cause for hope in the fight to make the world safe for sex.
Other advanced antiviral approaches incorporate the CRISPR/Cas9 system to kill viral-infected cells, to stop infections in their tracks — and to eradicate stubborn, difficult to reach viral reservoirs in the body. More:
The biotech is working on the theory that by interfering at the level of DNA, it may be possible to treat and eliminate persistent viral reservoirs–for which there are no current treatments.
As a proof of concept, the company has generated data for several viruses that demonstrate infection-specific cell death following delivery of nucleases to human cells, but has not yet tested this in the clinic.
HIV, Herpes viruses, Hepatitis viruses, and many others both sexually-transmitted and otherwise transmitted, can set up housekeeping in specific “safe” niches of the body, where drugs and immune responses cannot effectively reach. Any effective approach to eradicating such unwelcome house guests would go a long way toward making the world safe for sex.
Successful Attack on viral RNA Polymerase Would Be Effective Against Several RNA Viruses
Influenza is one of the world’s most common — and deadly — viruses. It is an RNA virus, and relies on RNA polymerase for replication and spread in an infection — and pandemic. But it is not the only RNA virus that relies upon RNA polymerase for its deadly impact. Researchers are investigating new ways to hijack RNA polymerase that will not only treat flu and other RNA viruses — but will actually eradicate them altogether.
Influenza is an RNA virus, a notorious group of pathogens that cause diseases like SARS, measles, Ebola and rabies.
… Universal vaccines are potentially a solution because they can, in theory, trigger an immune response against all influenza subtypes. However, these vaccines are still in development. Vaccines and drugs also can’t prevent influenza viruses from mutating, which can only be done if we manage to understand and stop the RNA polymerase. Alternatively, we could exploit the enzyme and force it to make so many errors that it destroys the flu virus altogether…
… Using a combination of structural, biochemical and biophysical techniques we are now beginning to understand how the enzyme interacts with the viral genome and which parts of the enzyme are important during different stages of the copying process. Hopefully, this will allow researchers to find its weaknesses, exploit them and give us a drug that can help effectively treat flu and get rid of it once and for all.
The eradication of viral species — both those that cause sexually transmitted diseases and pathological viruses that are spread by other means — would alter the global health care scene in a way even more radical than when vaccinations for common childhood diseases were introduced.
Viruses Have Been a Tough Nut to Crack
Only a few viruses have safe and effective medical treatments. Almost none of those treatments is particularly affordable. Costs to societies around the world from viral illnesses and sequelae easily reach into the $trillions of dollars per year.
Zika virus — and the brain damage it causes in children — has already spread to Africa, and is likely to move across the tropical belt of the entire globe. Other viruses cause brain damage in infants and children, which only adds to the massive all-societal costs which viruses bring. How much of the IQ deficit seen in Africans and others in tropical regions, caused by viral and other infections?
Viruses are hard to diagnose, hard to treat, and often hard to eradicate from the body once the acute stage has passed. Even worse, they can mutate and develop newer and more damaging strains — just when you least expect it. But I am sure you will agree, that the impact on normal sexual activity is the worst thing that viruses have done. 😉
That is why so many scientists, engineers, and computer specialists are working so hard to develop better ways to diagnose, treat, and eradicate viruses — to make the world safe for sex.