The substance is already used in the treatment of animals, but is still being tested in humans
Scientists have identified a drug that may be able to block the passage of the zika virus from the mother to the fetus. They released their results in an article published last Monday (18).
According to the study, zika is able to infect various types of placenta and amniotic sac cells. In the first trimester, the virus can reach the fetus through a placental route and from the second trimester, a new route arises through the amniotic sac.
“Few viruses reach the fetus during pregnancy and cause birth defects,” said lead researcher Lenore Pereira, a lead author of the study, in a statement issued by the University of California, San Francisco. “Understanding how some viruses are capable of this is a very important issue and may be the most essential to think of ways to protect the fetus when the mother is infected,” he said.
After understanding the pathways of the virus, the researchers tested an ancient antibiotic called Duramycin that proved capable of preventing the infectious agent from replicating in cells that could transmit the disease. The substance is produced by bacteria in the fight against other bacteria and is often used in animals. It is currently being tested in humans for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
Recent experiments in cell cultures have shown that the drug is also effective in blocking dengue and West Nile virus, both flaviviruses such as zika, and filovirus, such as Ebola. “Our article shows that Duramycin efficiently blocked infection of various placental cell types by samples of the Zika virus recently isolated during the current outbreak of the disease in Latin America, where zika infection during pregnancy has been associated with microcephaly and other birth defects, “said Eva Harris, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, also note.
For the researchers, the results indicate that Duracymin and similar drugs may help decrease or even end transmission of zika from mother to fetus. The infection was blocked in the laboratory using relatively low concentrations of the drug, which is also a positive indication.