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article imageNew drug slows down rate of Zika infection

By Tim Sandle     May 22, 2016 in Science
A science team have demonstrated that an experimental antiviral drug, designed for use against hepatitis C, can slow down the development of Zika in mice. Further studies will be undertaken to demonstrate the effectiveness in people.
Zika virus disease (Zika) continues to make health-related news headlines around the world. Zika is a disease caused transferred to people via the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito (although other forms of transmission, such as sexual contact appear possible.)
The disease causes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, with the symptoms assessed as ‘mild’ in most cases, with the symptoms apparent for around one week. A key concern is with Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Here it has been shown that women infected with the virus could give birth to children with microcephaly and associated fetal brain defects.
In a potential new breakthrough, virologists have demonstrated, in an animal model, that a drug designed for the treatment of hepatitis C may be effective against the Zika virus. This effect occurs because the Zika virus is related to the hepatitis C virus and it appears that some inhibitors of the hepatitis C virus also prevent the multiplication of the Zika virus in cells.
After demonstrating the effect in human cells, the research group, from KU Leuven, Belgium, assessed whether the inhibitor provided protection in laboratory animals. The mice used for the study had a defect in their innate immune system. The rodents were next infected with the Zika virus. Once symptoms became apparent, the mice were treated with the medicinal product and this delayed the symptoms."
Further work is required in relation to improving the inhibitor. Once this developmental work has progressed, and further animal models used, the process will move onto human trials.
The research is published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The study is titled “The Viral Polymerase Inhibitor 7-Deaza-2’-C-Methyladenosine Is a Potent Inhibitor of In Vitro Zika Virus Replication and Delays Disease Progression in a Robust Mouse Infection Model.”
In related news, the U.S. Senate has voted to advance $1.1 billion in emergency financing to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus. This less than the $1.9 billion requested by the White House. The request is based on concerns about the spread of the virus through the U.S. To date there have been around 500 cases on U.S. soil. One U.S. citizen has, to date, died from complications relating to the disease: a Puerto Rican man in his 70s, who died from “complications related to severe thrombocytopenia.”
More about Zika virus, Virus, Mosquito, Hepatitis C
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