Spanish researchers from Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA) and the Regional University Hospital of Malagain collaboration with the CSIC, have developed a protein called I-SOL which represents a great advance in the fight against infections caused by viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 or the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). To create this protein, they have based themselves on a molecule that is naturally present in the human body, which is known as the soluble interferon beta receptor and whose properties allow it to fight viruses, stop their reproduction and modulate our immune system.
Initially, the intention of these scientists was to use I-SOL to improve the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease that affects the nervous system and interferes with its functions. However, the results of the studies showed that the protein has antiviral activity on its own, making it an ideal candidate for antiviral drug development.
This scientific project arose in the Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation group of IBIMA Plataforma BIONAND, whose lead researcher is Pedro Serrano. The initial objective of the project whose main investigator is Begoña Oliver was to find new ways to treat multiple sclerosis, but the researchers discovered the potential of I-SOL in the treatment of viral infections. In fact, they are now working together with a company to develop a commercial kit based on this protein.
Developing effective, broad-spectrum antiviral treatments
One of the main objectives of researchers working in the field of virology and medicine is to develop new effective and broad-spectrum antiviral treatments, and current strategies focus on reducing or eliminating the ability of viruses to infect and on enhance the capacity of our natural defense system. However, they must solve challenges, such as the resistance of pathogens to drugs and the lack of specificity in the treatment of unknown viruses.
Several research groups have carried out various trials that have confirmed the efficacy of I-SOL against viruses such as the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 and HIV.
Thanks to the positive results obtained regarding the antiviral activity of I-SOL, collaborations were established with other research groups, such as Antonio Alcamí from the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and José Alcamí. and Luis Enjuanes, from the National Center for Microbiology of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII). These groups have carried out various trials that have confirmed the efficacy of I-SOL against viruses such as the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 and HIV.
Begoña Oliver and her team continue to work on this project and seek funding to publicize these results and attract the attention of pharmaceutical companies interested in collaborating on the trials that are needed for this promising drug to reach the market.