Czech scientists on track for drug against Zika virus
Czech scientists believe they have taken a significant step in coming up with possible treatments for both tick borne encephalitis and its near relation, the Zika virus, which has already been declared a global public health threat by the World Health Organisation after the infection took off in Latin America at the end of last year.
But Czech scientists from the Biological Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences based in České Budějovice, the Brno-based Institute of Veterinary Medicine, and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague believe they have come up with promising research results which could pave the way to treatments for encephalitis and Zika.
Daniel Růžek is the laboratory head for arbovirology at the Institute of Parasitology of the Academy of Sciences. He told Czech Radio how far the research had advanced so far.
“We have currently ascertained what group of chemicals is effective against this virus and what is, let’s say, the Achilles Heel of the virus, which we can try and deal with. At this moment we have results from cell cultures but as well as that we also have the first results from tests on laboratory mice. Those test confirm that the chemicals can protect against deadly neurological infections. As I said, these are the first results and it will be a long road to some kind of treatment.”
Actually, it was largely by chance that the Czech researchers were on the track of substances that could be used to tackle the Zika virus. Daniel Růžek again:
And the long haul from lab tests to an effective drug that can be used on patients might be shortened in this particular case.
“Usually, it takes up to 15 years from the first stem cell test results or experiments on laboratory animals till the time that a drug comes onto the market. In this specific case the situation might be a bit easier in so far as that some of these substances that have been identified are already undergoing clinical tests. They have already been identified as effected against the hepatitis C virus, And since the clinical tests for hepatitis are proceeding, it’s not so distant that they could be used against other infections.”