The Zika virus has recently been in the spotlight since it became an epidemic in several parts of the world. With its ongoing threat especially when it affects pregnant women and newborns, scientists are now looking into possible treatments to keep the disease at bay. One of the approaches that researchers are taking is by looking into existing drugs that are already approved for use that may also be effective in treating Zika. So far, the researchers have identified a number of compounds that may be effective in treating the said disease.
The Zika virus is the culprit behind a rash of birth defects found in newborns in a number of South American countries such as Brazil. The virus is said to cause microcephaly and Guillaine-Barre syndrome in babies born from mothers infected with the Zika virus, which is known to be transmitted via infected mosquitoes. With the mounting epidemic threatening a greater part of the globe, researchers are in a race to find a potential treatment for the viral infection. Instead of trying to discover and identify new drugs as possible treatment, researchers from Florida State University have begun looking into existing compounds to identify drugs that can help treat the Zika virus. According to Hengli Tang, a professor of biological science at FSU and one of the senior authors of the said study, “We focused on compounds that have the shortest path to clinical use. This is a first step toward a therapeutic that can stop transmission of this disease.”
The researchers developed a drug repurposing screen to identify compounds from several approved drugs that will work in treating Zika. This new method aims to help researchers speed up drug development. The team screened around 6,000 different compounds that are already approved by the FDA or currently undergoing clinical trials. So far they found a compound called Niclosamide that can be used to treat the Zika virus. This drug, which is commonly used to treat for tapeworm, is already approved by the FDA and is found to be safe for use during pregnancy in previous studies. Technically, doctors can already prescribe the drug today. But it may need to undergo some tests to repurpose it for treatment of Zika.
With this new approach, researchers are hopeful that they will be able to identify other existing drugs for treating Zika faster than when they try to develop a novel drug specifically for the said disease.
Source: Medical News Today