Researchers in Belgium, at EARA member KU Leuven and the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3), have developed a treatment for dengue fever - a disease affecting 100 million people each year.
Dengue fever, caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes, currently has no prevention (an existing vaccine offers only partial protection) or cure and is listed in the WHO top ten threats to global health.
In collaboration with EARA member Janssen Pharmaceutica, the team designed an antiviral which prevents the virus from multiplying by blocking the interaction of two of its proteins.
Using mice, the researchers showed that giving a low dose of the antiviral as a tablet could also prevent infection by the virus, meaning it could be used alongside the existing vaccine to have greater effect.
“Years of intensive collaboration have now resulted in an ultra-potent dengue inhibitor that we are proud to present,” said Dr Patrick Chaltin, managing director of CD3.
The antiviral treatment will now be developed into an easy-to-administer formulation, which will then need to undergo human trials.