Open drug discovery for the Zika virus

Sean Ekins, Daniel Mietchen, Megan Coffee, Thomas P. Stratton, Joel S. Freundlich, Lucio Freitas-Junior, Eugene Muratov, Jair Siqueira-Neto, Antony J. Williams, Carolina Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas has caused global concern that we may be on the brink of a healthcare crisis. The lack of research on ZIKV in the over 60 years that we have known about it has left us with little in the way of starting points for drug discovery. Our response can build on previous efforts with virus outbreaks and lean heavily on work done on other flaviviruses such as dengue virus. We provide some suggestions of what might be possible and propose an open drug discovery effort that mobilizes global science efforts and provides leadership, which thus far has been lacking. We also provide a listing of potential resources and molecules that could be prioritized for testing as in vitro assays for ZIKV are developed. We propose also that in order to incentivize drug discovery, a neglected disease priority review voucher should be available to those who successfully develop an FDA approved treatment. Learning from the response to the ZIKV, the approaches to drug discovery used and the success and failures will be critical for future infectious disease outbreaks.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number150
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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