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Most flaviviruses are arthropod-borne viruses, transmitted by either ticks or mosquitoes, and cause morbidity and mortality worldwide. They are endemic in many countries and have recently emerged in new regions, such as the Zika virus (ZIKV) in South-and Central America, the West Nile virus (WNV) in North America, and the Yellow fever virus (YFV) in Brazil and many African countries, highlighting the need for preparedness. Currently, there are no antiviral drugs available to treat flavivirus infections. We have previously discovered a broad-spectrum antiviral compound, benzavir-2, with potent antiviral activity against both DNA- and RNA-viruses. Our purpose was to investigate the inhibitory activity of benzavir-2 against flaviviruses. We used a ZIKV ZsGreen-expressing vector, two lineages of wild-type ZIKV, and other medically important flaviviruses. Benzavir-2 inhibited ZIKV derived reporter gene expression with an EC50 value of 0.8 ± 0.1 µM. Furthermore, ZIKV plaque formation, progeny virus production, and viral RNA expression were strongly inhibited. In addition, 2.5 µM of benzavir-2 reduced infection in vitro in three to five orders of magnitude for five other flaviviruses: WNV, YFV, the tick-borne encephalitis virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and dengue virus. In conclusion, benzavir-2 was a potent inhibitor of flavivirus infection, which supported the broad-spectrum antiviral activity of benzavir-2.


Yong-Dae Gwon, Mårten Strand, Richard Lindqvist, Emma Nilsson, Michael Saleeb, Mikael Elofsson, Anna K Överby, Magnus Evander. Antiviral Activity of Benzavir-2 against Emerging Flaviviruses. Viruses. 2020 Mar 22;12(3)

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PMID: 32235763

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