Zika virus Current Affairs

US approves first test to screen Zika virus in donated blood

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ‘Cbas Zika test’ for detecting Zika virus in donated blood. It is first of kind test approved by FDA for detecting Zika virus in donated blood.

The cobas Zika test is manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems Inc. It is intended for use by blood collection establishments to detect Zika virus in blood donations and not for individual diagnosis of Zika virus infection.

Cobas Zika test

It is qualitative nucleic acid test for detection of Zika virus RNA in individual plasma specimens obtained from volunteer donors of whole blood and blood components and from living organ donors. It has shown more than 99% clinical specificity, in earlier evaluation for testing individual samples from blood donations at five external laboratories

Zika virus

Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the same mosquito that transmits dengue. It can also spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.

The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads. Besides a possible link between virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.


Spanish scientists discover novobiocin compound as anti-Zika drug

Researchers San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia, Spain have discovered novobiocin compound that could be used as a potential drug to fight the effects of a Zika virus infection.

The novobiocin molecule (compound) was previously used in antibiotic drug to fend off “nosocomial” infections (those acquired inside a hospital). However, the drug was withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic.

Novobiocin compound

Researchers have found that this compound can counter the symptoms of the mosquito-borne Zika disease. It has shown phenomenal recovery results in mice with 100-percent cure rate. However, researchers are still figuring out the exact dose needed for humans to achieve the same successful outcome. They also have patented the molecule for anti-Zika treatment.

About Zika virus

Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the same mosquito that transmits dengue. It is also found that, sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible. The Zika virus has been named after Zika forest in Uganda where it was first isolated in 1947.

The Zika disease had seen swift expansion between early 2015 and January 2016 throughout South America and Caribbean where babies with abnormally smaller heads due to Microcephaly were born. World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the disease as epidemic and global health emergency but later revoked it after the outbreak was brought under control.