Researchers at a Spanish University report they have discovered a molecule that may unlock the answer to fighting the world’s Zika virus.
San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia published a statement Saturday stating its scientists from its prestigious Bioinformatics and High-Performance Computing research group discovered a compound previously used in an antibiotic as a remedy for mosquito-borne diseases.
“It’s a drug that had been withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic, but we know it can be administered to humans,” said Jose Pedro Ceron, a member of the research team.
The molecular structure of the proteins involved in the Zika virus’ replication process was first described only a year ago.
The BIO-HPC group’s findings were based on numerous computational chemistry experiments and trials with lab mice conducted by the University of Hong Kong.
Researchers focused on an antibiotic that had been previously prescribed to fend off “nosocomial” infections, those acquired inside a hospital.
By manipulating and experimenting with the antibiotic, researchers were able to refocus its use and target strands of the Zika virus in its rodent subjects.
The compound “novobiocin” showed amazing results in its test subjects, resulting in 100 percent cure rates. Scientists are still developing the appropriate dosage for humans.
Once approved, their antidote will join other medicines on the market, standing out as the only Zika antibiotic which has proven successful among its mammal test subjects.
The teams of both universities have now patented the molecule as an anti-Zika treatment.
The mosquito-borne disease was first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. It was not considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak revealed that the virus can lead to severe birth defects.
One of those defects, microcephaly, affects babies who are born with abnormally small heads. Thousands of babies were born with microcephaly in almost 30 countries due to the outbreak.
It caused more concern when health officials said Zika could also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
Although there is still no current treatment for the virus, these scientists believe their discovery may be the first step to eradicating the disease completely.