As per a new study, preliminary trials in monkeys for a potential dengue medication were found to be effective. This medication has the potential to be the first prevention method and cure for the virus.
Annually, tens of millions of people are afflicted with dengue, which is carried by mosquitoes, and its brutal manifestations have given it the moniker ‘break-bone fever’. The virus is widespread in many countries and despite the discovery of two vaccines, neither has been widely used.
A group of researchers found two years ago that by preventing the interaction of two proteins, a chemical may prevent the virus from multiplying in cell cultures and animals. Since then, the team has improved the drug and conducted successful experiments on mice and monkeys.
The findings were very encouraging, according to Marnix Van Loock, lead researcher for emerging pathogens at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Companies. The high dose of JNJ-1802 completely prevented viral replication in the monkeys, while control animals revealed viral RNA between days three and seven following infection. The chemical prevented and treated all four forms of dengue in mice.
Dengue fever can produce severe flu-like symptoms and can sometimes progress to a deadly form. With no known cure, efforts are presently focused on limiting transmission, including infecting mosquitos with bacteria.
There are still issues regarding therapy, such as whether it increases the risk of reinfection. It is unclear if stopping or lowering viral replication results in the same susceptibility to reinfection.
Before proceeding with human trials, including field studies in dengue-affected areas, the researchers must submit safety data from their round of testing. Van Loock did not comment on when the therapy might be widely available, notwithstanding the results being encouraging.