Researchers have found an effective treatment approach to
inhibit and keep the latent herpes simplex virus from reactivating and causing
disease with the help of an existing drug, tranylcypromine (TCP), which blocked
a protein called LSD1 that plays a major role in the initiation of herpes
simplex virus infection.
Current treatments require active viral replication and targets late stages of the infection, which has led to development of drug resistance. This study took a different approach by targeting a drug, TCP, to a protein that controls how genes are turned on and off, early in the viral replication process. This epigenetic approach reduced symptoms and also reduced shedding (i.e. release of virus particles which can transmit the virus even in the absence of symptoms) and forced the virus to remain in a latent stage, preventing its reactivation. Thus, indicating that even when a virus is not active, drugs modulating epigenetic changes can still treat the infection.
This multi-institutional animal study was conducted by late James Hill, PhD, LSU Health New Orleans Professor and Director of Pharmacology and Infectious Disease at the LSU Eye Center, who was the lead author for the study, Thomas M. Kristie, PhD, Chief of the Molecular Genetics Section in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Laboratory of Viral Diseases, led the study, and also included Timothy Foster, PhD, LSU Health New Orleans Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Parasitology.