Zika Virus Update Six - Treatment with an Antiviral Peptide
Treating the Zika Virus with an Antiviral Peptide
The situation relative to the Zika virus has changed a bit since our last update back in 2017.Since then, there has been a decline in transmission numbers in the US and its territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2016, there were 5,168 cases in the US and 36,512 cases in US territories, with Puerto Rico having the majority of cases. On the other hand, in 2018, so far there were 52 cases in the US and 106 cases in US territories, with Puerto Rico again having the highest number of transmissions of any region.1 The Zika virus is primarily a mosquito-borne illness that causes the most damage to unborn babies if transmitted during pregnancy, leading to microcephaly.2 At the current time, there is no preventative vaccine or treatment available. A new publication in Nature Materials offers some promise by way of a peptide antiviral. The Zika virus has a lipid envelope coating the particles. One antiviral strategy is lipid envelope antiviral disruption (LEAD) and is meant to disable the coating and thereby reducing infectivity of the viral particles. The team, led by Joshua A. Jackman and Vivian V. Costa, designed a D-enantiomer version of alpha-helical HA peptide. Their peptide has 27-residues and D-amino acids were used to decrease proteolytic degradation, resulting in an increase in bioavailability and stability. They found with in vitro studies, that not only did it rupture the virus liposome; it prevented virus-triggered neuronal cell death, even when given post-infection. It showed activity against other viruses such as Dengue, and was found to be non-toxic to mammalian cells. The effects were also tested in vivo in mice and demonstrated blood brain barrier (BBB) penetration and antiviral activity without altering BBB permeability permanently.3 Hopefully this work leads to peptidic antiviral treatments for Zika and other viruses.
- J.A. Jackman and V.V. Costa et al., Nature Materials, 17(11), 971 (2018).