Clinical trials for a dengue fever treatment could start within a year, following a discovery by scientists at Australia’s University of Queensland.
By identifying similarities in how the body reacts to dengue virus and bacterial infections, existing drugs may be re-purposed to combat the debilitating mosquito-borne disease.
“We have discovered that the dengue virus NS1 protein acts as a toxin in the body, in a similar manner to the way bacterial cell wall products lead to septic shock in bacterial infections,” said School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Head Professor Paul Young.
“For the past 20 to 30 years, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have been developing drug candidates to inhibit the body’s damaging responses to these bacterial infections.
“So drugs are already available that have gone through phase three clinical trials.
The dengue virus is an increasing problem in tropical and sub-tropical areas. There are more than 400 million infections globally each year with some 2.5 billion people in more than 100 countries at risk.
While not usually fatal, up to 500,000 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever are diagnosed each year, with as many as 25,000 deaths.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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