Researchers at Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have come out with a novel method of preventing infection that are caused by highly common herpes simplex viruses, the microbes responsible for causing genital herpes and cold sores.
The finding, published online by The FASEB Journal, could lead to new drugs for treating or suppressing herpes virus infections."We've essentially identified the molecular "key" that herpes viruses use to penetrate cell membranes and infect cells of the human body," said Betsy Herold, M.D., professor of pediatrics >microbiology & immunology and of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein and attending physician of pediatrics, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore.Herpes viruses are known to infect skin cells as well as cells lining the cervix and the genital tract. A 2006 JAMA article estimates that nearly 60 percent of U.S. men and women between the ages of 14 and 49 carry the HSV-1 virus. The CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans (16.2 percent) between 14 and 49 are infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), according to a 2010 national health survey. HSV-2 is a lifelong and incurable infection that can cause recurrent and painful genital sores and can make those infected with the virus two-to-three times more likely to acquire HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
By contrast, cells not pretreated with the Akt inhibitors were readily infected on exposure to the virus."For people infected with herpes, the drug acyclovir helps prevent herpes outbreaks from recurring and lowers the risk of transmitting the infection to others," said Dr. Herold. "But some people have herpes infections that don't respond to acyclovir, and unfortunately there is no effective vaccine. So new approaches for suppressing and treating herpes infections are badly needed, and our findings indicate that inhibiting Akt should be a useful therapeutic strategy to pursue."