TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida State University biological science professor Hengli Tang and his team made headlines in the spring. They discovered a definitive link between Zika and the birth defect microcephaly.
Now his team is making another Zika breakthrough. This time, it involves a drug that could stop the virus in humans.
Emily Lee is one of several researchers at FSU working around the clock trying to find existing drugs that may help stop the spread of Zika. The team may have found more than one solution.
“We found was a group of compounds that seemed to work pretty good at stopping the virus at infecting cell, specifically when the virus tries to copy itself or replicate. So those compounds are mostly in clinical trials for the development,” Lee said.
Lee and others also found a drug that treats tapeworm may also stop the virus from spreading. This drug is already FDA approved.
“What we’re hoping is that eventually the study either directly or through additional research will lead to some sort of affordable treatment for Zika virus infection that’s accessible for a lot of people,” Lee said. “I’m hoping that this could eventually be a treatment.”
The study is published in “Nature Medicine,” but Lee says work still needs to be done.
While these drugs seem to relieve Zika symptoms and birth defects in animals, the jury’s still out on if these work the same way in humans.
“Right now we’re working in mice to see if we can also have these drugs work as well, and then once we see that, we’re going to move into additional animal models, and then eventually into people,” Lee said.
While that might take a little longer, Lee says this is the first big step in finding ways to stop the virus’ spread.
The Florida Department of Health says there is one new non-travel related case of Zika associated with the Miami Beach investigation.