WWI antiseptic could be key to triggering a modern antiviral response

Lead researcher

Dr Michael Gantier

Main finding

We discovered that a century old antiseptic, heavily used during WWI, also triggers immune responses protective against viruses.


Centre for Innate Immunity & Infectious Diseases

Research group

Nucleic Acids and innate immunity


Dr Genevieve Pepin Miss Charlotte Nejad Dr Belinda J. Thomas Dr Jonathan Ferrand Miss Kate McArthur Prof Philip G. Bardin Prof Bryan R.G. Williams

Journal and article title

Most surprising

The mode of action of this drug (acriflavine) on the immune system was unexpected - and suggests that many other similar drugs could act in a similar manner.

Future implications

This drug is safe in humans, inexpensive and offers an attractive option for the prophylactic treatment of viral outbreaks - in populations at risk (children, elderly, hospital staff).

Disease/health impact

infection, cancer