A new drug target in the Zika virus that can bind with an existing antimalarial drug to inhibit the spread of the disease in the human body including the pregnant woman has been discovered by IIT Mandi researchers.
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that already has approved uses in pregnancy is a inhibitor of NS2B-NS3 protease. It significantly decreases Zika virus infection in placental cells. It is used to treat and prevent malaria and treat chikungunya arthritis can inhibit the NS2B-NS3 protease necessary for the replication of the Zika virus. For prevention of malaria 400 mg dose is used weekly)
Flavi virus diseases (Zika, dengue, chikungunya) are transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
‘NS2B-NS3 protease, the target for drugs combating Zika virus (and other flavi-viruses) pathogenicity, plays a key role in hydrolysis and maturation of the flavivirus polyprotein.’
They are self-limiting disease that causes fever, rashes, joint pain and red eyes. In pregnant women Zika is associated with babies born with microcephaly (a small head and abnormal brain development).
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, "Prior and recent dengue virus infection is associated with protection from symptomatic Zika virus infection. Children with prior dengue infection have 38% less risk of showing symptoms when infected with Zika than those who were dengue-free".
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, "The need of the hour is prevention and enhanced surveillance. Use of measures to protect against mosquito bites is very important such as using insect repellent, covering as much of the body as possible with long, light-colored clothing, eliminating places where mosquitoes can breed and putting screens on windows and doors. Now the patients can ask their doctors about hydroxy-chloroquine prophylaxis)