New research suggested that, a lotion that is used to treating warts disease could cure or stop spreading Dengue or Zika virus. This could be done by applying Imiquimod or Aldara on bites within an hour of infection which could stop it from spreading which has shown a huge success in lab trials on human skin.
A cream that is used to treat genital warts and some forms of skin cancer could help protect against viral diseases such as Zika or Dengue, according to research from the University of Leeds (United Kingdom) that warns, however, that they are still more tests are required for actual use.
The scientists found that applying the imiquimod cream – the active ingredient – within one hour of the bite “dramatically reduced” infection rates in their models.
In the experiments they used both human skin samples and mice, and in both cases the application of the cream acted as “a warning signal” that caused a rapid activation of the skin’s immune response capable of fighting any potential viral threat, explains the university on a note.
This, he adds, prevented viruses from spreading throughout the body and causing disease.
The findings are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in an article also signed by the University of Glasgow.
It is too early to recommend people to use this cream on their bites, as further testing and development are needed to ensure that it can be used safely and effectively for this purpose, says Kave Shams of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Leeds.
But, adds this researcher, “we are hopeful that one day this discovery can help large numbers of people avoid diseases, especially in those parts of the world that are most affected.”
“If we can turn this cream into an antiviral treatment option, this could be a useful complement to mosquito repellent to avoid infection from these diseases,” summarizes Shams, who, along with the rest of the team, hopes to find collaborators to continue the investigations.
Respond to a viral attack
When a mosquito comes into contact with the skin, the bite causes a wound repair mechanism to start, however the skin does not prepare to respond to the virus attack.
This means that mosquito-borne viruses are able to replicate quickly with little antiviral response in the skin and then spread throughout the body, the same note details.
Researchers found that applying the cream after the sting preventatively triggered the immune system’s inflammatory response: Specifically, the drug encourages a type of skin immune cell, called a macrophage, to spring into action suddenly. to fight the virus before it can spread through the body.
Scientists studied four types of mosquito-borne viruses: Zika, Chikungunya, Semliki Forest, and Bunyamwera viruses; the first two were studied in human samples and all but Zika in mice.
For example, for Zika and Chikungunya , skin samples were taken from 16 volunteers and kept in the laboratory: scientists cut each sample in half and infected them with viruses; after one hour they applied the aforementioned cream to half of each sample and two days later they measured the degree of virus infection.
Tests with Zika and Chikungunya
In the case of Zika, they found that the skin that did not receive treatment contained 70 times more virus than the skin that was treated with the cream, while in the case of chikungunya, the skin that did not receive medication contained 600 times more virus.
In both cases, the treated skin did not release any infectious virus, meaning that the virus had not spread and caused the disease in the body.
What is especially encouraging about our results is that the cream was effective against several different viruses, without needing to target a particular virus, says Clive McKimmie, lead author of the study.
And it is that by stimulating the immune system and not targeting a specific virus, the strategy has the potential to serve a wide range of different viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.