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NIH-Led Team Identifies 3 Compounds That Work Against Zika Virus-Linked Brain Cell Death

HealthNational Institutes of Health researchers have partnered with Florida State University and Johns Hopkins University and discovered three compounds that work to hamper the ability of Zika virus to replicate and destroy brain cells.

Scientists at NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences identified emricasan, niclosamide and a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor through the use of robots designed to perform drug repurposing screening functions, NIH said Monday.

Emricasan is an experimental drug that is under the clinical trial phase for the treatment of liver fibrosis and injury, while niclosamide is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of worm infections.

A CDK inhibitor, PHA-690509, works to regulate brain development and cellular processes.

“Our identification of repurposed small molecule compounds may accelerate the translational process of finding a potential therapy,” said Anton Simeonov, scientific director at NCATS.

A team led by NCATS researcher Wei Zheng identified over 100 compounds that work against the mosquito-borne virus through the use of a caspase 3 protein-based assay to screen 6,000 experimental and FDA-approved drugs.

The research team subjected at least 100 compounds to tests and identified three experimental treatments that work to protect neuronal cells from the virus.

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, Emory University and NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also supported the research.

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