"Scientists advance in medicine to prevent spread of the zika virus"

"A group of scientists has advanced in the search for a remedy to prevent the spread of the virus zika. Conducted mainly by Americans, the study is in the preclinical phase and is made ith existing drugs, such as those used to contain malaria. The goal is that clinical trials are carried out before the 2016 Olympic Games, which begin in August in Rio de Janeiro .

"We need other options while vaccines are being developed. An important finding is that we have identified drugs that have activity (in laboratory tests) against the virus zika," said Robert W. Malone, director of pharmaceutical Atheric Pharmaceutical and part  of the group Zika Response working Group.

It is expected to be required at least three years for the vaccine virus to be ready. To date, there are 23 vaccine projects in development in the US, France, Brazil, India and Austria, according to WHO. The organization also said he believes the vaccine will be ready only after the end of the outbreak of the virus .

"We are accelerating the development of these drugs in cooperation with the WHO, the US Department of Health and hope to start working together with the Ministry of Health of Brazil, PAHO and Fiocruz," said Malone. 

According to the scientist, tests involving cell infection in vitro by Zika virus and further combat with different drugs. The medicine to fight malaria, such as amodiaquine, showed satisfactory results. The first tests show that the compound can block infection of cells by the virus, says the researcher. 

The amodiaquine has been used in the past in Brazil to treat malaria, explains Andrew Smith, a researcher at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Evandro Chagas, Fiocruz. It is one of the active ingredients of a low-cost remedy used in African countries malaria. The cost ASAQ in 2014, less than US $ 1 for the treatment of three days given to adults, according to Sanofi manufacturer.

Our focus is on prophylactic drugs to be made available for a low cost worldwide and are safe for use by pregnant women. It is much easier to prevent infection than to cure an existing one. But it is too early to speculate that "

The US group plans to begin clinical trials in humans before the Olympic Games in 2016. For this, Malone says it will take "hard work and luck", as well as resources for research. If these remedies become effective, they can get to Brazil after approval of ANVISA (National Health Surveillance Agency). "

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Gabriel Francisco Ribeiro
From UOL in São Paulo

03/24/2016 (auto -translation)

Jill Malone