Weakness Identified in Zika Virus Blocks Propagation

Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have published findings that may represent a first step towards a drug treatment for Zika infections.

The team has identified a molecule that inhibits the Zika virus protease and also shown that it blocks viral propagation in human cells and in mice.

To make their discovery, the researchers drew on a library of compounds from the lab of Alex Strongin, one of the lead researchers. The compounds had previously been shown to inhibit the same component of the related West Nile virus. Likewise, the researchers conducted tests with similar molecules from the SBP’s Prebys Center.

The inhibitor is seen as just one part of the fight against Zika infections. An experimental vaccine is expected to move into phase-two clinical trials in June. 

While the Zika virus has drawn much attention for causing microcephaly, a birth abnormality where affected children have smaller heads and brains, the researchers point out that there may well be a wide range of issues related to maternal Zika infections. They continue to investigate other abnormalities caused by the virus. 

You can learn more about their work in their published findings in Antiviral Research