When MIT-trained engineer Todd Rider revealed his revolutionary idea for killing virtually any virus, everyone from fellow scientists to The White House praised him for his results, with some going as far as to call his discovery the most important medical breakthrough since antibiotics. Yet four years later, Rider is struggling to find funds for his research and has to turn to online crowdfunding for something that could save the lives of millions.
The story of Todd Rider’s quest to rid the world of viruses began over 15 years ago, when, while in the shower, he came up with a radical idea in his head – what if there was some way to kill viruses by flipping their biologic suicide switches leaving the patient healthy and infection free? For the next decade, he and his colleagues worked on the concept of Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics, which proposed a whole new approach to tackling viruses. Instead of containing and preventing viral infections, their method actually killed virus-infected cells, without harming normal cells.
In early tests, this new weapon dubbed Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO), eliminated 15 pathogens, from the common cold to H1N1 influenza to hemorrhagic fevers like the dengue virus. It proved effective across 11 human cell types, including heart, kidneys and liver, and mice infected with lethal doses of influenza virus were cured with DRACO treatments.