Is There Already a Zika Treatment?

Humans contract zika via mosquito or through sexual contact. While most people recover from infection, it can have some intense side-effects for pregnant women. We know that infection during pregnancy comes with an increased risk of microcephaly, where a child is born with a smaller than average head which causes brain defects. Currently there are no treatments that doctors can give pregnant women who have zika.

Even if we came up with a drug against zika, it takes an average of 8-20 years for a drug to get FDA approval. It also costs around $125MFor $125M you could buy one midsize car every day for the next 12 years. Even after those 12 years, the drug might still be in the late stages of approval. That’s over 4,000 cars!

What if there were FDA-approved drugs against zika out there right now? We could use those drugs to treat people or speed up the FDA process for a new drug. This video outlines a paper from researchers at Duke University that take 774 FDA approved drugs and test them for activity against zika.


This article is a summary of results from Barrows et al. “A Screen of FDA-Approved Drugs for Inhibitors of Zika Virus Infection” Cell Host & Microbe 20 (2016).

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