According to the researchers, piperazine helps in inhibiting the spread of the virus and offers a new perspective for therapeutic intervention.
At this time, there is no vaccine or anti-viral drug available in the market for the cure of chikungunya.
To deworm treatments against roundworm and pinworm, piperazine is widely used. “Developing a new antiviral drug molecule can take over a decade and that is the reason why we are looking at repositioning existing approved drugs and testing these to see if they can inhibit or kill pathogenic viruses,” said Shailly Tomar from the Department of Biotechnology at IIT-Roorkee.
The breakthrough research has shown that piperazine is successful in controlling the spread and replication of the chikungunya virus in a lab setting. “We are currently testing the molecule on animals and hope to take this to clinical trials soon,” said Tomar.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.
The researchers revealed that they found that piperazine would bind itself well with the hydrophobic pocket on the alphavirus capsid protein. “This pocket is key to the replication of the virus and its spread inside a host. This inhibition of this pocket prevents budding and spread of the virus and can help in treating the virus effectively using existing drugs,” they said.
Delhi saw the sudden surge in the cases of Chikungunya in 2016, around 7,760 cases have been reported so far from across the national capital. In 2017, Delhi has witnessed nearly 500 cases of Chikungunya.