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Good News: Scientists Found Potential Antivirals to Cure Chikungunya

Oct 12, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

A research published in the American Society for Microbiology in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reveals that a team of researchers were able to create models showing potential compounds that can inhibit Chikungunya virus protease' activities.

"With new viruses constantly emerging, fast and reliable approaches are needed to enable identification of compounds capable of inhibiting their replication," said Dr. Andres Merits of the Applied Virology, University of Tartu, Estonia who is also a corresponding author on a press release.

The three-dimensional structures of the conserved virus proteins were used by the virologists and theoretical chemists of the team to test different compounds that may halt activities of the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in silico. Findings showed that several different compounds were found to be useful in inhibiting the CHIKV replication and the RNA synthesis, using more than one means or mechanisms in battling with the virus.

"While none of these compounds is ready to be used as an antiviral drug, they represent promising leads and excellent tools for follow-up studies," Dr. Merits mentioned.

Read: Scientists Interpret Mosquito Genes to Help Prevent Spread of Deadly Diseases

With the track of the experts on improving the models to predict other potential chemicals and compounds, hopes for treating virtually unknown viruses such as Zika and MERS were also alleviated.

Chikungunya was known to be one of the viruses which caused massive outbreaks. Believed to have originated from the forests of Africa, the virus easily spread across South and Southeast Asia, the Atlantic and even to America. First emerging with prominence in 2005 at La Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Chikungunya virus infected one-third of the island's total population with recorded 237 deaths out of the estimated 750,000 people in the area.

Chikungunya virus has three major strains: the East Central South Africa (ECSA), Asia, and West Africa. All strains differ in transmission mode, genome sequence and spatial distribution. Once infected with Chikungunya, the person is expected to experience fever, nausea, headaches, fatigue and severe joint pain.

Read more about Chikungunya and the studies about it over the last decade since it emerged here.

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