Dengue, also known as ‘breakbone fever’ given its symptoms, affects tens of millions annually worldwide. New research seems to have uncovered a treatment for the virus, the first of its kind.
A study was published recently in the Japan-based journal Nature which explains this in detail. Tests run in cell cultures as well as mice uncovered a newly-identified compound with the ability to disarm the virus effectively.
As a result, disease is prevented since the virus is stopped from replicating.
Named JNJ-A07, the compound was discovered only after thousands of possible candidates got screened. It targets interactions between two proteins in the virus which trigger its replication. According to University of Leuven, Belgium professor of virology Johan Neyts, who was a leader in the research, “even if treatment is started at the time of peak viral replication there is important antiviral activity.”
The dengue virus is mosquito-borne and is endemic across 128 countries globally. Total infection every year is currently estimated at 98 million, at the bare minimum. It has symptoms that can be quite severe much like the flu. Some cases see dengue develop into a full-blown intense illness that leads to death.
Getting dengue once doesn’t guarantee any immunity or protection. That’s largely because the virus has four strains, none of which offer protection from the others. Moreover, a second case of dengue is typically much worse.
Whether it’s taken as a form of pre-infection caution or through treatment post-contraction of dengue, the effectiveness appears to be much the same.
University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health’s Eva Harris and Scott Biering find this development in the dengue fight “exciting.” The pair had nothing to do with the research, but wrote a review for Nature. Part of their collective thoughts read, in part, that the study “represents a major advance in the field of dengue therapeutics.”
There is a “further slightly optimized” version of JNJ-A07 reported in Nature currently undergoing clinical development by Johnson & Johnson.