Researchers propose new dengue virus treatments

Dengue virus is spread by mosquitoes.
Dengue virus is spread by mosquitoes. | Science Daily

A team of researchers from the Julius Maximilian University of Wurzburg and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany recently proposed new treatment methods for dengue virus.

There are currently no known cures or vaccines for the fatal virus, which the World Health Organization reports afflicts approximately 390 million people each year. 

The new treatments involve active substances from an enzyme called NS2B/NS3, inhibitors created from a class of molecules called diaryl thither. The researchers want to use the enzyme to inhibit proteases. This method has been effective in treating Hepatitis and HIV patients.

The team of researchers want to test they're newly discovered inhibitors, which work more efficiently than current methods. Current methods to inhibit proteases only prevent the spread of dengue virus in half the cases. 

The diaryl thither proteases are tailored to destroy the cells infected with dengue. The treatment does not harm healthy cells. It is so specifically targeted that dengue’s close relative virus Hepatitis C is not destroyed by the treatment — only the dengue virus.

The researchers' studies show that these new inhibitors effectively neutralize 97 percent of the virus with low doses.

Scientists have already developed the active substance. The protease efficacy was tested in a safety laboratory, and the next step is to test whether the active substances prevent the virus from infecting higher organisms.

People contract dengue fever through mosquito bites. Ninety percent of dengue cases are never diagnosed because the patients develop no symptoms. Other patients develop a sickness similar to influenza that is especially fatal to children. Symptoms escalate from muscle cramps and bone pain to high temperatures and internal bleeding. Patients require extreme medical treatment to survive.

Previously, dengue was only found in the tropics, but in recent years their have been recorded cases in the Mediterranean region, Croatia, France and Germany. Scientists explain that through global warming the mosquitoes responsible for dengue fever have a larger warm climate to inhabit.

More details about the research are available in the "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" journal.

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