Naturally occurring compounds in an Australian native plant that effectively kill the Zika virus have been discovered by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers in collaboration with Health Focus Products Australia (HFPA).
Lead researcher Dr Trudi Collet from QUT’s Indigenous Medicines Group and the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) said tests had confirmed the compounds not only halted the virus but also stopped it replicating.
“The research is in the early stages, but we are aiming to ultimately synthesise the compounds in question and turn our attention to preclinical testing,” Dr Collet said.
While the plant cannot be named, it is a fairly common Australian native. Laboratory tests found that it killed 100 per cent of the Zika infection in cells.
“It’s also exciting because of the implications of this work for other viruses. Zika, Dengue, West Nile, Japanese Encephalitis and Yellow Fever are all from the same family of viruses,” Dr Collet said
“From here, we will work to identify the compounds over the next three to six months, synthesise them and then test them against these other viruses too.”
Zika is a virus that is closely related to Dengue Fever and is spread by mosquitoes and by human sexual activity.
While most people experience a very mild infection without any complications, recent outbreaks of the Zika virus in the Pacific and the Americas show that it can be passed from a woman to her unborn baby and potentially cause serious birth defects.
HFPA chairman and founder Dr Mark Baldock said a 2017 report released by the USA’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted the fact that there was a 20-fold increase in the number of birth defects in women infected with Zika.
“Zika is becoming more prevalent in developed countries and, once contracted, the virus has been shown to remain in human sperm for six months,” he said.
“This QUT-HFPA breakthrough brings new hope that we could one day eliminate the virus from people who contract it in the very early stages and remove that prolonged danger and uncertainty.”
Read more about this important research here. Story credit: Queensland University of Technology newsroom.
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