Spanish scientists discover potential anti-Zika drug

Jul 23, 2017, 13:00 IST | IANS

Researchers from a southeastern Spanish university announced the discovery of a molecule that could be used as a potential drug to fight the effects of a Zika virus infection.

In a statement on Saturday, the San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia (UCAM) said that scientists belonging to its prestigious Bioinformatics and High-Performance Computing research group had found that a compound previously used as an antibiotic countered the symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease, Efe news reported.

"It's a drug that had been withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic, but we know it can be administered to humans," said Jos� Pedro Cer�n, a member of the research team.

The molecular structure of the proteins involved in the Zika virus' replication process was first described only a year ago.

Researchers focused on an antibiotic that had been previously prescribed to fend off "nosocomial" infections (those acquired inside a hospital).

The teams of both universities have now patented the molecule as an anti-Zika treatment.

The compound, known as "novobiocin," had phenomenal results when given to mice: a 100-percent cure rate.

The only pending task is to figure out the exact dose needed for humans to achieve the same successful outcome.

Cer�n and De Haan, along with Horacio P�rez S�nchez and Jorge de la Pe�a-Garc�a, make up the only Spanish team to have published papers in the field of anti-Zika drugs.

The Zika virus -- named after a forest in Uganda where it was first isolated in 1947 -- saw a swift expansion between early 2015 and January 2016 throughout South America and the Caribbean, when factors such as tropical climates and insufficient mosquito-population control led the World Health Organization to term it an epidemic and global emergency

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