Researchers May Have Found Solution to Save Fetuses from Zika Virus
To conduct this study, the researchers infected some pregnant mice with the Zika virus. After that, some were treated with Kineret, while the rest remained infected.
Photo Credit: Reuters
Zika fever is a mosquito-borne disease which typically causes asymptomatic or mild infection (fever and rash) in humans. Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the America, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to 1980s, rare sporadic cases of human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness.
The first recorded outbreak of Zika virus disease was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. This was followed by a large outbreak of Zika virus infection in French Polynesia in 2013 and other countries and territories in the Pacific.
The last Zika outbreak was seen in 2015. That year, Brazil was successful to identify a link between the virus and brain damage in developing fetuses. This means that where Zika virus mildly affects the infected patient, the transmission of the virus from an infected mother can severely affect her growing fetus. The fetus can be prone to microcephaly, a condition where a fetus has an abnormally small head which leads to brain damage.
Presently, there is no treatment for Zika, nor is there a way to prevent fetal infection. Nevertheless, a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University have discovered that a drug called Kineret may protect infected fetuses from brain damage. Kineret is a kind of anti-inflammatory drug which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
To conduct this study, the researchers infected some pregnant mice with the Zika virus. After that, some were treated with Kineret, while the rest remained infected. After the mice babies were five days old, all the pups were diagnosed, only to reveal that the pups of untreated mice had impaired motor and cognitive skills while pups whose mothers had received Kineret showed normal development. In fact, the treated pups had less inflammation in their brains and Kineret promoted normal developing of the placenta.
Kineret is a well-characterized drug which has so far, proved to be safe for use during pregnancy. And now, after this study, the drug may smoothen the path toward its potential use in Zika patients.
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