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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Todd Rider Joins Draper to Continue Antiviral Therapeutics Development

CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Todd Rider has joined Draper Laboratory to continue his work on treatments that are effective against a wide array of pathogens, rather than specific threats.

Rider received his Ph.D. from MIT in 1995 and served as a senior staff scientist at MIT Lincoln Laboratory until October 2013. While at Lincoln Laboratory, Rider began development of a broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutic drug called DRACO, which TIME Magazine hailed as one of the top inventions of the year 2011, and the White House described as “visionary” in its 2012 National Biotechnology Blueprint. 

Upon administration to an animal or hopefully someday a person, Rider’s DRACO drug rapidly identifies virus-infected cells and eliminates them while leaving healthy cells untouched, thus eliminating the infection. DRACO, which stands for Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer, has proven effective and nontoxic in mice and in 11 different human and animal cell types against 15 different viruses, ranging from the common cold to dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Rider is expanding his DRACO research at Draper and is testing against strains of various other viruses in cells and animals; the team looks forward to larger scale animal trials and clinical human trials within a decade or less. DRACO is part of Rider’s PANACEA project, a family of broad-spectrum therapeutics that he invented.

Rider holds a joint appointment with MIT’s Edgerton Center, where he is also working to develop innovative programs to improve K-12 science education, drawing on his extensive previous experience creating and running educational outreach programs at Lincoln Laboratory.

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