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Researchers Identify Strong Drug Candidate for Treatment of Zika Virus

JUL 27, 2017 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
“We do not know the mechanism of anti-ZIKV effect of hippeastrine hydrobromide or amodiaquine dihydrochloride, [yet],” study coauthor Shuibing Chen, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemical Biology in Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine told Contagion®. She and her team are currently studying the 2 agents to learn more about their mechanism of action within the setting of the mosquito-borne virus.

After applying the 2 drugs to cell 2 hours post-Zika infection, the authors also found that they eliminated the virus (IC50=3.62 μM for HH and IC50=2.81 μM for AQ), and that HH “successfully rescued [Zika]-induced loss of cell viability with no obvious cytotoxicity.” They then treated Zika-infected hNPCs with HH or AQ for 3 days, and found that both compounds suppressed infection to undetectable levels by day 3. The virus was also undetectable in Zika-infected D20 forebrain organoids treated with HH. In addition, they found that the drug exhibits anti-Zika activity in vivo in the brains of adult mice.

“AQ is approved by FDA as an optional treatment of uncomplicated malaria,” Dr. Chen said. “Since AQ has been reported to have some rare side effects, dose-adjustments and increased safety precautions are required for treatment of patients in order to prevent the intoxication. HH is an active component of Chinese traditional medicine. However, it has not been approved in the United States, which might take some time.”

In their concluding remarks, the authors noted, “Few options are currently available to treat potentially devastating infections from the [Zika] pandemic, but chemical-based drugs may provide a first response option. Our findings suggest a strong drug candidate for the treatment of [Zika virus] infection, in addition to indicating targets for drug development against other flaviviruses, including West Nile virus, Dengue virus, and yellow fever virus, which all cause severe illness.”
 
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
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