A drug approved in 2007 for the treatment of AIDS- raltegravir or Isentress-could also play a role in preventing the herpes virus, found a new study.
Sold by Merck, the drug cancels the function of an essential protein for the replication of one kind of herpes virus, said scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona).
Headed by the coordinator of the Structural and Computational Biology Programme, Miquel Coll, the study is the first step towards the development of a drug against the entire herpesvirus family.
"These results have a clear medical impact for three reasons. First, humans do not have the viral protein that is affected, thus this would allow a highly specific drug that does not show the secondary effects that other drugs may have. Second, the inhibitor is not toxic for humans when administered at therapeutic concentrations because it is already on the market and thus toxicity tests are facilitated; and third, we have data that indicate that all herpes viruses have this protein. Therefore, it could be a valid target against all Herpesviridae," explained Miquel Coll, also a CSIC research professor.
The drug cancels the function of an essential protein for the replication of the virus.
Herpesviruses include pathogens such as herpes simplex 1 and 2, the virus that causes chickenpox otherwise known as zoster virus, the Epstein-Barr virus -associated with several types of cancer -, the roseola virus, the cytomegalovirus and the herpes virus associated with Kaposi sarcoma -in AIDS patients.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS).