A Cure for the Common Cold?
The common cold may not be the worst disease around, but it certainly is annoying. Finally, there may be a cure. Or at least major relief. It's a drug is called Pleconaril (pronounced plah-CONN-ah-rill), made by ViroPharma, Inc. It seems to shorten a bad cold by 3 to 4 days, while lessening cold symptoms. In addition to curing colds, Pleconaril also works against some other, much nastier viral diseases, such as flu, polio, and viral meningitis. Two large-scale tests will be completed by spring. If Pleconaril is as safe and works as well as expected, the company hopes to begin selling it late this year or in early 2001.
In the past, most medicines have been discovered by testing large numbers of different chemicals to see which could be useful. Now, medical science has taken a giant leap forward. Pleconaril was not discovered; it was designed! Scientists mapped the three-dimensional surface structure of the virus. Then they designed a drug which fits into a groove on the surface. This prevents the virus from infecting the body's cells. These same design techniques can now be used to target many other viruses, and give doctors new weapons in the fight against viral diseases. (1/00)
Hate the idea of cutting up a frog in biology class? You are not alone. More and more schools are using technology to replace hands-on dissections. Computer software is available that allows students to perform virtual dissections of frogs, pigs, cats, worms and other animals.
These programs have received mixed reviews from science teachers. Some approve, while others believe there is no good virtual substitute for the actual hands-on experience. (1/00)
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