Zika Virus Update Number Two
Since my last post about the news of the Zika Virus ("Zika Research Yields Strong Links" - June6, 2016), the situation has been rapidly and dramatically changing, particularly in the Southeast United States. As of this writing, there have been 16 cases in the Miami, Florida area and over 5,500 confirmed cases reported in Puerto Rico as well.1 In the latter case, which includes at least 672 pregnant women, that number is believed to be only a small fraction of those actually infected.1
Although the human toll is great, in terms of health outcomes, the fear such outbreaks cause, and of course, financial costs, there are many researchers working on solutions to this infection:
- One recent article, “Bacteria Prevent Zika Virus Transmission2,” explains how scientists at University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia are taking aim at one of the mosquitoes that can carry the virus (Aedes aegypti) with bacteria, resulting in them being unable to spread it.3
- At the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, scientists have tested over 770 FDA-approved therapeutics and found that more than twenty were effective against the Zika virus.4
- The Seattle-based Kineta recently received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health, which focuses on funding research of infectious diseases5. Their Innate Immune Antiviral program, which they are investigating as a potential therapeutic for Zika, utilizes a protein called IRF-3 (Interferon Regulatory Factor-3), “a critical first responder that is essential for inhibiting viral replication and clearing infection.”6
- Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine are conducting studies to investigate Zika virus vaccine development, utilizing blood donations from previously infected individuals.7
This is just a small sample of the many efforts targeting this and related arboviruses. While the most immediate work to combat the Zika virus is understandably focused on vector management, the efforts of these researchers and many others offer promise restricting - or even ending - future infections and the costs they inflict.
A special thanks goes to George Schroeder, MD, Medical Director of the North Florida Treatment Center for references 2 and 5. Also thanks to Dennis Thireault for his interest and information
- http://www.biotechniques.com/news/biotechniquesNews/biotechniques-364898.html - .V6IKta6bTIY
- M.T. Aliota, S.A. Peinado, I.D. Velez, and J.E. Osorio, The wMel strain of Wolbachia Reduces Transmission of Zika virus by Aedes aegypti. Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 1;6:28792.