(Mirror Daily, United States) – The Zika virus is a global threat, but it proved more dangerous for pregnant women. Unfortunately, medical experts couldn’t find a drug or a vaccine which can protect them from passing the infection to their unborn child. However, they think they found a solution, as new research indicated an already existing malaria drug as effective against Zika.
Malaria drug might combat Zika as well
The study discovered hydroxychloroquine might be able to stop the transmission of the Zika virus from the mother to the fetus. This drug has already been approved as a malaria treatment, and is safe for pregnant women. Therefore, this might be a viable solution to protect them, especially in poorer areas of the world where the virus is more prominent.
Usually, the placenta keeps infections and other harmful substances away, shielding the fetus from all outside factors. Unfortunately, this barrier is not perfect, since alcohol, drugs, or certain infections might overpass it. Zika, apart from passing through placenta, can also multiply in the womb.
This virus is not so dangerous for adults or even for children, since it only causes symptoms resembling the flu. However, the situation is different from unborn babies, as it might cause microcephaly. This condition causes babies to be born with an incredibly small head, while also encountering other developmental problems.
The drug worked on pregnant mice
Researchers tested the malaria drug on pregnant mice, and saw how it interfered with the Zika virus and prevented it from attacking the placenta. All mice had the same amount of Zika in their blood, but those which received hydroxychloroquine transmitted less of it to their fetuses.
This is an amazing discovery, since there finally appeared a possible solution to protect pregnant women from Zika. However, it is not clear yet if the drug might have side effects if used for a longer period of time. All the results have been gathered in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Image Source: Military Sealift Command – Navy.mil
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