Australian University of Queensland researchers have discovered that mosquito-borne dengue virus has similarities to bacterial infections and have come out with a drug which is set to undergo clinical trials next year.
Prof. Paul Young of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences in Queensland University said they found similarities in how the body reacted to dengue virus and bacterial infections, hence developed a drug tweaking those meant for bacterial infection.
“We have discovered that the dengue virus NS1 protein acts as a toxin in the body, in a similar manner to the way bacterial cell wall products lead to septic shock in bacterial infections,” he said.
Since researchers and pharmaceutical companies have been developing drugs to inhibit body’s damaging responses to bacterial infections, the drugs developed in the last three decades which had undergone three clinical trials will be re-positioned to treat Dengue fever, he said.
The mosquito-borne dengue virus has become a major threat in tropical and sub-tropical areas, including India, with more than 400 million people getting infected from it globally each year. Even the World Health Organisation ranks it as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.
With increased international travel and the prospect of climate change, the dengue mosquito, is affecting more populations in recent years, he noted. Since it can lead to potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, as many as 25,000 deaths are reported each year.
Since there is no vaccine or drug, the findings of Young and his team attract global signiicance.
Another researcher and PhD student Naphak Modhiran who was from Thailand that suffered its worst dengue epidemic last year in more than 20 years, said, “There were more than 200,000 cases and many deaths,” she said. “I hope our discoveries in the lab will translate to the patient bedside and eventually help those who suffer from dengue infection around the world.”
The UQ research group’s findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.