View Full Version : Cure/Treatment for Virus (Need doctors to help/corroborate)

03-09-2011, 05:34 AM
One of my WIP deals with a viral epidemic... a long time ago I had some people help me with the premise for this, but now I need help in figuring out possible cures, along with corroboration to the information I already have.

The idea is as follows:

A virus that will trigger an autoimmune disease.

From Ray Strand’s Guillian-Barre Syndrome
or Chronic Relapsing Guillian-Barre Syndrome Article:

“Some believe a recent viral infection may be responsible for the autoimmune reaction.”
Thus leaving open the possibility for a virus to trigger an autoimmune disease.
But, rather than having one that attacks the nervous system, it will be more along the lines of Lupus.

“…Multiple organ systems may be involved such as the joints, kidneys, lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract…"

"I was taught in medical school that autoimmune diseases were the result of an overactive immune system since the body was essentially attacking itself. Consistent with my training, almost all of the medical therapies that physicians offer patients with an autoimmune disease are based on this premise. This is why most of these patients are placed on chemotherapeutic
medications, which primarily suppress the immune system.”

He also states, in other words, that autoimmune doesn’t mean overactive, but rather confused immune system.

The virus will, essentially, confuse the immune system and cause it to attack self, depending on where it’s at—most commonly heart or lungs.

...So, the question being, does this sound plausible enough? And, moreover, what would be a logical way of curing it (if possible) and treating it?


03-09-2011, 12:31 PM
Immunology is too complex and cutting edge for me to fully understand latest research, but your information as posted is correct.

The two words that you didn't use in your post that help make sense of immunolgy are antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are proteins made by your immune system that swarm "foreign" ie non-self thngs like viruses and bacteria. Antigens are the proteins that stick out from every cell/virus that your body uses to recognise what's you and what's not.

As a metaphor, lets use letters.

You're "english". All your antigens are "english". As a simplified visual aid, your cells are circles with 26 stalks sticking out of them. Every stalk is an english language letter. One is an "a" on a stalk, the next a "b" and so on. Your immune system knows english letters are "friendly" it leaves them alone.

Now you contract a chinese virus. It's a circle with chinese characters on stalks. Your body doesn't know what the hell a chinese character is. It sees it, it attacks the invader. Nice, simple and striaghtforward. you have battlelines drawn. Either you'll win or you'll lose.

Suppose you contract a german virus. It's pretty well disguised. It has "a"s and "b"s. It bluffs it's way past your immune system quite nicely.....until your body notices that there's an β hiding around the back. Now it see's something foreign and it attacks. it makes antibodies that attack β. If you're unlucky, the antibodies might think that cells with two "s"s next to each other are βs. If your kidney has lots of "s"s next to each other you suddenly have antibodies in your system that will attack your kidneys. You're still good though. The attack on your kidneys might only last as long as it takes you to kill the virus. For the rest of your life you'll have an immune system that is looking for β, but if it can't see it it won't need to mass produce the antibodies to fight it so your kidneys can relax.

Supposing the virus is a retrovirus though. These actually write themselves into your dna. their purpose is to slip in, get into one of your cells and rewrite your dna. Not in a major way, but they are no longer viruses, they're now foreign DNA incorporated into your own. Once there, they persuade the cell they're in to make things the virus likes. Once they've done that you can't see them anymore, but they might cause the cells they're hiding in to make β on stalks. Then your body would carry on seeing β so it carries on making antibodies, Your kidneys are no longer having fun. They're still caught in the crossfire. The cells the virus is in aren't having fun either, they might be under attack. A mild attack might just irritate them (inflammation), a major attack might kill them.

To cure a virus all you need to do is find something foreign about it that you can attack that will kill it. You can make a drug to attack it or you can leave the body to attack it. You have to attack something important about it though. you couldn't stop a tank by scratching its paint. you need to attack the virus in a way that stops it getting into your cells, or that stops it replicating. There's no point giving it a mild slap as it carries on attacking.

To cure a retrovirus is much harder and impossible for many with current medical technology. You'd have to kill each and every cell that the virus has set up camp in. If it's in your liver, and it's in 90% of all of the cells in your liver, you can't really just wipe out 90% of a liver without also wiping out the person. if your body is having a very good go at wiping out your liver for you, then you need to surpress the immune system just to keep the liver from being destroyed. Future technology might be able to remove the foreign DNA but right now we can't. Once it's there, it's there.


03-09-2011, 02:57 PM
Unfortunately, I'm not a doctor but I have MCTD (a lupus-like illness) which my rheumatologist believes was triggered by infection with the Epstein Barr virus when I was a teenager. From what I understand, the antibodies produced to combat the EBV virus somehow triggered the autoantibodies responsible for attacking my own immune system - whether the autoantibodies were always in my body or were produced as a direct result of the EBV antibodies, I'm not sure - and this in turn led to my symptoms.

A few links that might be useful to you:


One of the potential treatments for severe autoimmune disorders is to suppress the immune system with drugs, which, although effective in preventing the body attacking its own defences, also has the unpleasant side-effect of opening the body up to outside attack from bacteria/viruses.

03-09-2011, 04:45 PM
Craig, thank you for that explanation and metaphor, brilliantly put. This thread has been very helpful to me too.

04-21-2011, 08:02 PM
In real life, there has never been a virus that we cured. We can remove it from the populace by eliminating the possibility of the infected to spread the contagion, but we cannot cure viral infections. Either the body does it, or you live with the effects. Were there a cure, herpes would be gone (and good riddance to it!); the same for HIV.