Dengue and Zika Viruses: Epidemiological History, Potential Therapies, and Promising Vaccines

Nelly M Silva, Nuno C Santos, Ivo C Martins
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease 2020 September 23, 5 (4)
Dengue virus (DENV), which can lead to fatal hemorrhagic fever, affects 390 million people worldwide. The closely related Zika virus (ZIKV) causes microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. Both viruses are mostly transmitted by Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which, due to globalization of trade and travel alongside climate change, are spreading worldwide, paving the way to DENV and ZIKV transmission and the occurrence of new epidemics. Local outbreaks have already occurred in temperate climates, even in Europe. As there are no specific treatments, these viruses are an international public health concern. Here, we analyze and discuss DENV and ZIKV outbreaks history, clinical and pathogenesis features, and modes of transmission, supplementing with information on advances on potential therapies and restraining measures. Taking advantage of the knowledge of the structure and biological function of the capsid (C) protein, a relatively conserved protein among flaviviruses, within a genus that includes DENV and ZIKV, we designed and patented a new drug lead, pep14-23 (WO2008/028939A1). It was demonstrated that it inhibits the interaction of DENV C protein with the host lipid system, a process essential for viral replication. Such an approach can be used to develop new therapies for related viruses, such as ZIKV.

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