By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) – An experimental pill for dengue developed by Johnson & Johnson proved effective against all four types of the virus in mice and prevented infection from two types in monkeys, according to data published on Wednesday.
The promising early animal results appearing in the journal Nature add hope for what could become the first antiviral treatment for a mosquito-borne disease that causes 96 million symptomatic infections and 10,000 deaths each year.
The company said in a statement it has already completed an early-stage trial of the experimental treatment, known as JNJ-1802, in healthy human volunteers, which showed it to be safe and well tolerated. J&J is now testing the drug in a randomized Phase II clinical trial.
Studies in lab animals confirmed prior work showing the drug blocks the action of two viral proteins, preventing the virus from making copies of itself.
The company said in a statement it aims to develop the drug as both a treatment for dengue and to prevent infections.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bill Berkrot)