Spanish scientists develop ‘anti-Zika drug’

Image: Spanish scientists develop anti-Zika drug
Image Source: NBC Right Now

Researchers from a south-eastern Spanish university announced the discovery of a molecule that could be used as a potential drug to fight the effects of a Zika virus infection.

Scientists of the San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia have found that a compound previously used as an anti-biotic countered the symptoms of the mosquito-borne diseases.

The compound, known as ‘novobiocin’, had phenomenal results when given to a mice: a 100% cure rate. The only pending task is to figure out the exact dose needed for humans to achieve the same successful outcome.

A member of the research team pointed out that it’s a drug that had been withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic. It was earlier prescribed to fend off “nosocomial” infections (those required inside a hospital).


Image: About Zika virus disease
Image Source: City of Bowie

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency for Zika virus. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

Signs and Symptoms:

Image: Signs and Symptoms of Zika Virus disease

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.

Complications of Zika virus disease:

WHO has concluded that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly; and that Zika virus is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome.


Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (e.g. residence in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission). A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.


Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. THERE IS CURRENTLY NO VACCINE AVAILABLE.




The Hindu Newspaper (You can download ‘The Hindu’ newspaper for free from UPSC Aspirants Forum – a Facebook page)


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