Repurposed Use of the Alkaloids Emetine and Cephaeline to Treat Zika Virus Infection
Zika virus (ZIKV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, has re-emerged and spread across the Western Hemisphere in the past year. A large outbreak started in Brazil in late 2014 and is a growing public health concern. Currently, active transmission has been reported in 58 countries and territories globally. About 20% of ZIKV infected individuals develop symptoms, which mostly resemble symptoms caused by other arboviruses, such as dengue viruses or chikungunya virus. Unlike these viruses, however, ZIKV causes congenital defects, including microcephaly, and is also associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome in infected adults.
The present invention concerns the novel use of emetine compounds for the treatment or prevention of Flavivirus infections, such as Zika virus infections. Emetine compounds have been FDA approved for use against amoebiasis and has been shown to have some anti-viral activity against other viruses.