Researchers at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) recently identified compounds that potentially can be used to inhibit Zika virus replication and reduce its ability to kill brain cells. These compounds now can be studied by the broader research community to help combat the Zika public health crisis. NCATS is part of the National Institutes of Health.
Using NCATS’ drug repurposing screening robots, researchers identified two classes of compounds effective against Zika: one is antiviral, and the other prevents Zika-related brain cell death. The compounds include emricasan, an investigational drug currently being evaluated in a clinical trial to reduce liver injury and fibrosis, and niclosamide, a U. S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for use in humans to treat worm infections. In addition, the researchers identified nine cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. CDK usually is involved in regulation of cellular processes as well as normal brain development, but the Zika virus can negatively affect this process.
NCATS’ work was a collaborative effort with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, (JHU) and Florida State University, Tallahassee, (FSU), and the study results were published in the August 29 issue of Nature Medicine. The NCATS screening effort builds on the initial research by JHU and FSU scientists, who discovered that the Zika virus infects brain cells early in development. Infection by the Zika virus may be related to fetal microcephaly, an abnormally small head resulting from an underdeveloped and/or damaged brain.
Read more at NIH