3 Existing Drugs Might Kill Zika

But scientists still need to do animal, human trials
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2016 3:45 PM CDT
3 Existing Drugs Might Kill Zika
This 2016 digitally-colorized electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus, in red, about 40 nanometers in diameter.   (Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC via AP)

The good news: Three drugs that already exist appear to be successful at fighting the Zika virus. The bad news: Scientists aren't yet sure if the drugs will actually work on humans who have the Zika virus, the Washington Post reports. The drugs—PHA-690509, a drug currently being tried on cancer patients; emricasan, a drug currently being tried on patients with liver damage from hepatitis C; and niclosamide, which is used for gut parasites—"are very effective against Zika in the [petri] dish, but we don’t know if they can work in humans in the same way," says the co-author of the study that led to the discovery.

The study, which screened 6,000 existing drugs, used the drugs on lab-grown human cells; the three aforementioned drugs allowed those cells to live longer when faced with Zika infection—and sometimes even recover completely, though Zika damage was previously thought to be impossible to reverse. The next step is to test the drugs in animal models, then, if the results are replicated, test them on humans. Meanwhile, in addition to the problems Zika is already linked to in unborn babies, USA Today reports that the virus is now also linked to hearing loss. (More Zika virus stories.)

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