New herpes drug target and candidate
conserved parts of ICP8, a major part of the viral life cycle of the herpes family of viruses, as well as HIV, were identified as a novel drug targets.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and HSV-2 are considered amongst the most prevalent pathogens, affecting 70% and 17% of adult population, respectively. HSV infection typically results in lifelong latent infection that periodically give rise to clinical outbreaks, expressed as lesions, as well as by a highly contagious period.
To date, existing therapies, like Acyclovir, are aimed at reducing the symptoms of outbreaks, but do not offer definite cure. Researchers at the Knipe lab have identified a new drug target for Herpes viruses that may provide another option for first line therapy, and a synergistic effect to drugs that are currently in use.
Innovations and Advantages
The Knipe laboratory identified conserved residues in HSV-1 ICP8 that share structural homology with cellular enzymes in the DDE family. They provide evidence that these residues are required for HSV-1 DNA recombination and that recombination of the viral genome is required for viral DNA replication. Their findings demonstrate that inhibition of virally encoded DDE recombinases can be effectively exploited as a target for antiviral drugs. Identifying ICP8 as a new drug target for double stranded DNA viral infections opens the door for a gamut of therapeutic developments:
While HSV infection is often treated with Acyclovir, There is a clear need for a new anti- HSV drug due to the growing presence of Acyclovir resistant HSV strains. Therefore, the discovery that HIV integrase inhibitors can also inhibit HSV replication has a potential to fill this immediate and significant medical need.
HIV Integrase inhibitors that are used for the treatment of HIV were shown by researchers in the Knipe lab to also inhibit HSV-1 replication in cell based assays with high efficacy. This discovery provides evidence that one drug treatment has the ability to treat both HIV and HSV infections. Especially when considering the fact that HSV infection is a well characterized risk factor for HIV acquisition and transmission.
Targeting ICP8 as a new target for drugs could provide a synergistic effect with other polymerase inhibitors which are currently the primary choice in the market, such as Acyclovir.
Finally, ICP8 homolog was found also in other herpes viruses, opening the door to treat more disease oriented indications like CMV and EBV in the future.
A provisional patent application for this technology has been filed. This technology is available for worldwide, exclusive licensing and/or a collaborative research program with the Knipe laboratory.
Bryant, Kevin F.
Dreyfus, David H.
Knipe, David M.
For further information, please contact:
Michal Preminger, Director of Business Development
Reference Harvard Case #4214