New research may open the way to permanently kill the herpes virus buy activating the dormant virus then destroying it.
“Inactive virus is completely untouchable by any treatment we have. Unless you activate the virus, you can’t kill it,” said Bryan Cullen, who oversaw the research.
Jennifer Lin Umbach of Duke University in North Carolina said that for still unknown reasons, viruses infecting different neurons in the same body activate at different times, making it impossible to eradicate an infection.
Her team found that a gene called LAT controls microRNAs that turn off other genes in the virus.
A drug that would turn off the microRNAs could drive the virus out of hiding and allow all copies of the virus to be killed with acyclovir, she said.
“You would have one cold sore but you would get rid of it,” she said. Curing something more painful, such as shingles, might be a little trickier, she added.
The potential market is large. An estimated one in five Americans have genital herpes (HSV-2) according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 100 million have the HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores.
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Tags: Acyclovir, centers for disease control, centers for disease control and prevention, cold sores, different times, dormant virus, duke university, genital herpes, herpes outbreaks, herpes virus, hsv-1, hsv-2, inactive virus, neurons, shingles