Mayaro virus is a mosquito-borne virus endemic to forests in South America. It causes acute illness with fever, headache, rash, and long-lasting joint pain. Mayaro’s range could spread in the future because of climate change. No vaccines or antiviral drugs are currently available although there are some candidates under development.
Therefore, a concerned team of scientists from the Rega Institute for Medical Researchin Belgium wanted to do exploratory research on antivirals that might treat this disease. They chose a panel of molecules that are known to treat other mosquito-borne viruses, some of which block early stages of the virus life cycle (arbidol, chloroquine, suramin, and ribavirin), and some that inhibit virus genome replication (favipiravir, 7DMA, 2’CMC, EIDD-1931, galidesivir and remdesivir).
They then applied these selected molecules to a model of cell culture that was infected with Mayaro virus. The researchers measured the 50% effective concentration, or the amount of molecule that inhibits 50% of the virus infectivity. They optimized the antiviral screening assay to be reproducible and reliable.
The assay described in this paper can be useful to test future antiviral drugs against this virus. Furthermore, the three molecules that performed well in cell culture are worth further study with in vivo models. Although the range of Mayaro virus is limited for now, we should study it and other neglected diseases to proactively prevent suffering in the future.
Langendries L, Abdelnabi R, Neyts J, Delang L. Repurposing drugs for Mayaro virus: identification of EIDD-1931, Favipiravir, and Suramin as Mayaro virus inhibitors. Microorganisms. 2021 Mar 31;9(4):734. PMID: 33807492