An inhibitor of Zika virus that reduces virus levels in pregnant mice and fetuses is identified in a study published in Nature Communications this week. The inhibitor is shown to be safe for use in pregnant mice. These findings indicate that this drug could be potentially considered for further pre-clinical development.
Zika virus can be passed from an infected woman to her fetus during pregnancy, potentially leading to birth defects. There are no approved vaccines or drugs currently available to treat Zika virus infection. Shibo Jiang and colleagues identify a potential drug that inactivates Zika virus particles and stops the virus from entering cells. They show that this drug reduces transmission of Zika virus to the fetus in pregnant mice. The molecule shows no adverse effects in pregnant mice or their offspring when administered during pregnancy.
Although further studies are necessary to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this inhibitor in humans, the approach of inactivating the virus particle could be used to develop novel treatments for Zika virus infection in high-risk populations, particularly pregnant women.