Health In Focus
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections are most commonly responsible for sexually transmitted infections.
  • A drug screening system using genetic engineering was developed to aid cure for HPV infections.
  • The HPV drug screening assay system can help to identify potential drug targets and treatment for HPV infections.

A new drug screening system could help in identifying potential drug targets and treatment for Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, finds a study from Icosagen Cell Factory Ltd. and University of Tartu, Estonia.

The scientists used genetic engineering techniques to develop a drug screening system and the study was published in PLOS Pathogens.
New Screening System to Identify Potential Drug Targets and Treatment for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) contains more than 200 subtypes and may result in genital warts, to throat and cervical cancer.

Around six million people in the United States are diagnosed with HPV infections every year.

Even though physicians and health care professionals are on the verge of developing new treatments to cure HPV infection, there is still no specific treatment for the infection.

Developing a Cure for HPV

Mart Toots and colleagues of the Icosagen Cell Factory Ltd. and University of Tartu, Estonia have developed a new method involving the use of a full HPV genome and three stages of a viral life cycle, which can occur during HPV infection.

The new drug screening system was developed using genetically engineered HPV genomes by adding 'reporter genes' which can code for bioluminescent proteins and allows easy monitoring of the virus growth at any life cycle stages.

The reporter genes enable the use of a high-throughput screening that can quickly test the efficacy of many different chemicals on viral growth, which can identify potential drug targets for HPV infections.

The new system was able to demonstrate more than 1000 chemical compounds in HPVs grown in cells that were derived from the human tissue. A number of compounds that blocked the growth of some HPV subtypes were also identified.

Some of the compounds also inhibited specific human cellular proteins, which are essential for Human Papillomavirus to replicate inside the body. This finding suggested that inhibiting the proteins can be a new target for the development of new anti-HPV drugs.

The authors said that, "We are confident that the developed HPV drug screening assay system will allow to identify several different novel drug targets and small molecule drugs."

"These could be used effectively for elimination of cutaneous and mucosal low-risk and high-risk Human Papillomavirus infections, therefore addressing serious unmet medical need in the society, like benign and malignant HPV positive epithelial tumors."

Interesting Facts on HPV infections

  • 80% of people have Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections, as they are transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, and can be passed from a person who has no symptoms or signs of the infection.
  • HPV usually cause genital warts that are harmless and sometimes can even lead to the development of cancers (cancer of the cervix, vagina, anus, penis and even cancer of the throat and tongue).
  • 70% of HPV infections can result in cervical cancer. Specific HPV screening tests can help to diagnose people who are at an increased risk of cervical cancer.
  • There is no specific treatment for HPV. However, vaccination can protect against HPV cancers.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of HPV vaccine for children between the age of 11-12 years to protect against cancers caused by HPV.
  1. Toots M, Ustav M Jr, Männik A, Mumm K, Tämm K, Tamm T, et al. (2017) Identification of several high-risk HPV inhibitors and drug targets with a novel high-throughput screening assay. PLoS Pathog 13(2): e1006168. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006168
Source: Medindia

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