Researchers announce Zika drug breakthrough

Florida State University announced that researchers had identified two existing drug compounds that could potentially be used to treat the Zika virus.

The compounds, which include Nicolsamide, a drug to treat tapeworm, can stop the virus from replicating in the body. The other stops the virus from killing fetal brain cells. 

Pregnant women are at greatest risk as Zika has been linked to a rare birth defect in which babies are born with brain damage and microcephaly.

“We focused on compounds that have the shortest path to clinical use,” said FSU Professor of Biological Science Hengli Tang. “This is a first step toward a therapeutic that can stop transmission of this disease.”

The team behind the breakthrough hail from Florida State, Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health.

The full study was published Monday at

A possible vaccine developed at the Walter Reade Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, earlier this month is expected to begin human testing in October.

Two other vaccines are also promising. They can pump out a protein found in the Zika virus, which in turn were shown to give a test monkey's immune system the ability to attack the full virus.

With the Associated Press