Researchers and robots working together have identified 2 drugs that may be useful in treating Zika infections in pregnant women. The work, published in Nature Medicine, was conducted at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Florida State University (FSU).
The researchers used drug repurposing screening robots to test 6000 compounds, which included medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as investigational drugs. The screening assay they developed measured the ability of these compounds to suppress activity of caspase 3, a protein involved in infection-induced cell death, in cultured human neural stem cells. Of the thousands of compounds examined, 100 emerged as promising.
Abbasi J. Repurposing Drugs to Treat Zika. JAMA. 2016;316(16):1636. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.14757