Pipets in Pathobiology lab
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Pipets in a Pathobiology faculty member's lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Photo credit: Katherine Turner.
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By Molly Shen

SEATTLE -- On the heels of the World Health Organization declaring a public health emergency related to the Zika virus, local scientists said they are already working on a cure. And if they're able to treat Zika, it could also mean a cure for viruses ranging from West Nile to Ebola, to the common cold.

Scientists at biotech company Kineta and the University of Washington are developing the compound. Just like antibiotics treat bacterial infections, their antiviral drug would fend off a range of viruses.

"One of the things where viruses have been really clever throughout evolution, is they have learned how to evade the immune system," said Dr. Shawn Iadonato, Kineta's Chief Scientific Officer. "So what our antiviral drugs are really designed to do is to ramp up the immune system and make it better able to fight infection."

That infection could even include the common cold. Their method already shows promise, not just with emerging viruses like Zika, but with respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Michael Gale of the UW Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease has been working on the idea for nearly 10 years. He described a day when family members will go to the doctor to either treat or prevent the spread of a cold.

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This article is part of HEALTH Works with Molly Shen, in partnership with UW Medicine.

Read the full article and watch the video on KOMONews.com.