Investigators from the University of Helsinki have revealed that 3 anti-influenza compounds successfully inhibit Zika virus infection in human cells. The outcomes offer the base for development of the broad-spectrum cell-directed antivirals or their combos for treatment of Zika and other emerging viral conditions.
Globalization, environmental modifications, population development and urbanization make emerging virus conditions a main threat to public health. An example of such epidemics is the Zika outbreak.
Zika infection connected with congenital brain problems is one of the 11 virus diseases that, with respect to World Health Organization, require immediate research and drug development attention. At the moment, there are no accepted therapies for Zika infection.
Various host cell targets are required for duplication of influenza and many other viruses. In contrast to viral proteins, the host targets are less vulnerable to mutations and thus medicines aiming for them could be more useful against viruses, which mutate easily.
A study team led by Dr. Denis Kainov, chose to adopt this strategy to test cell directed compounds for therapy of Zika. In their latest study, presented online in the Antiviral Research journal, the investigators revealed that antivirals which block influenza virus by targeting host cell factors are also capable to inhibit Zika virus infection. Denis Kainov
The international research group used a model system where human retinal pigment epithelial cells were infected with Zika virus strain they isolated previously from fetal brain [T1]. They were capable to show that therapy of the cells with 3 drugs, known as obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide and gemcitabine, prevented synthesis of viral building blocks and production of new viruses at quantities that are not toxic to cells.
Commenting on their research Dr. Kainov said,
Our outcomes show that these antiviral medicines and their combos are powerful inhibitors of Zika virus-host cell interaction. In addition, the outcomes extend the spectrum of antiviral activity of these compounds and shed new light on their mechanisms of action.
Significantly, the results of the study show that re-purposing commercially accessible, approved drugs or drug candidates may speed up development of therapy against Zika and can offer a toolbox to target also other emerging viral diseases, Prof. Vapalahti added.