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Drug For Rheumatoid Arthritis Reduces Congenital Zika Defects In Mice

In research with mice infected with the Zika virus, the researchers reported that they successfully used long-term immunosuppressive drugs to reduce fetal death and congenital defects in the mice.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, anakinra, a commonly used in rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases in the treatment of newborns and adults, has been largely replaced by more effective medications. In experiments with mice infected with Zika, however, the drug appears to stop inflammation of the placenta for pregnant animals, according to researchers. There are also indications that the drug directly reduces fetal brain inflammation.

The report with results was published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights.

“Until now, the focus of the research was to find vaccines and antivirus, but our research sturdily recommend that the placental immune response shouldn’t be overlooked,” says Irina Burd, MD, Ph.D. professor of gynecology and professor of obstetrics at the University of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and director of the integrated fetal medicine research center. “FDA approved the use of the drug, which has already been verified to be safe in children, to shorten the time when we can begin a quick clinical investigation and possibly gain an effective, available preventive measure, and approved against the harmful effects of Zika.”

The US Centers for Disease Control stated that around 10% of infants born in the United States and received Zika infection during pregnancy are identified with fetal brains birth defects causing from slow growth to microcephalic head, which is a condition head size is small due to brain abnormalities. Zika can spread from unprotected sex with an infected person, or infected mosquitoes bite and also transmitted from a pregnant woman to the fetus. Pregnant women with Zika also have an increased risk of miscarriage.

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