Zika remains a research and public health challenge

Since 2016, when Zika was declared by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern, the virus has become established in more than 80 countries, infected millions of people, and left many babies with birth defects (collectively called congenital Zika syndrome). Although scientists have made progress in their understanding of the virus and its mosquito carrier, and are working toward treatments and a preventive vaccine, it would be premature to think that the Zika pandemic is now under control and will not reemerge, perhaps more aggressively, say leaders from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The Journal of Infectious Diseases published online December 16 a special supplement of articles examining current scientific knowledge about the Zika virus and the key research questions that remain. The supplement was sponsored and edited by NIAID and features several articles written by NIAID scientists.

The journal's introductory article was written by NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and senior advisor David Morens, M.D. It notes some of the critical scientific questions regarding Zika that deserve further exploration, including: whether certain viral mutations occurred to facilitate its geographical spread; if different species of Aedes mosquitoes are capable of transmitting Zika and what that may mean for future transmission; what is apparently unique to Zika compared to other more well-known flaviviruses, such as dengue, that can explain why it can cause congenital infections, neurological conditions and encephalitis, transmit sexually and persist for long periods of time in multiple parts of the human body; and whether preexisting immunity to other related flaviviruses may impact Zika exposure and infection.

Some of the severe manifestations and complications associated with Zika disease include fetal loss, microcephaly and other birth defects, and the potential for delayed mental and physical effects among infected babies born in apparent good health. These factors represent a "profound medical tragedy" and societal challenge that will require decades of financial, medical and social support, Drs. Fauci and Morens write. They note that the rubella epidemic of the 1960s, when tens of thousands of babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome in the United States, can provide important lessons learned that may be directly applicable to Zika research. The Zika pandemic is likely to serve as a roadmap for addressing future emerging infectious disease challenges, the authors conclude.

David M Morens, Anthony S Fauci.
Pandemic Zika: A Formidable Challenge to Medicine and Public Health.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 216, S857–S859. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix383.

Most Popular Now

Top 20 breaking World Pharma News of 2017

We are proud to announce the top 20 most popular breaking World Pharma News from 2017. Have a wonderful 2018 new(s) year filled with health, happiness, and spectacular su...

Roche and Ignyta reach definitive merger agreement

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) and Ignyta, Inc. (NASDAQ: RXDX) today announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Roche to fully acquire Ignyta ...

Antidepressant may help combat the course of multi…

The antidepressant clomipramine may also alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically in its progressive form, i.e. when it occurs without relapses or remi...

Novartis advances head-to-head superiority trials …

Novartis announced today the initiation of SURPASS, a head-to-head clinical trial of Cosentyx® (secukinumab) versus proposed biosimilar adalimumab** in ankylosing spondyl...

Distinct human mutations can alter the effect of m…

Every person has a unique DNA sequence in their genome. Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have tr...

FDA updates the label of Tasigna to reflect that c…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today updated the product label for the cancer drug Tasigna (nilotonib) to include information for providers about how to discontinu...

Researchers repurpose immune-activating cytokine t…

The most lethal form of breast cancer could have a new treatment option, according to new research out of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve Uni...

Zika remains a research and public health challeng…

Since 2016, when Zika was declared by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern, the virus has become established in more than 8...

FDA approves novel gene therapy to treat patients …

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), a new gene therapy, to treat children and adult patients with an inherited for...

Diabetes drug 'significantly reverses memory loss…

A drug developed for diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer's after scientists found it "significantly reversed memory loss" in mice through a triple method of action...

Try exercise to improve memory, thinking

For patients with mild cognitive impairment, don't be surprised if your health care provider prescribes exercise rather than medication. A new guideline for medical pract...

US FDA accepts regulatory submission for Tagrisso …

AstraZeneca today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for the use of Tagrisso (osimertinib), ...

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]