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Biosecur Bioterror. 2009 Dec;7(4):413-27. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2009.0032.

Alphavirus antiviral drug development: scientific gap analysis and prospective research areas.

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Biological Therapeutics, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-6201, USA.


The New World alphaviruses Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), and western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) pose a significant threat to human health as the etiological agents of serious viral encephalitis through natural infection as well as through their potential use as a biological weapon. At present, there is no FDA-approved medical treatment for infection with these viruses. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (DTRA/JSTO), is currently funding research aimed at developing antiviral drugs and vaccines against VEEV, EEEV, and WEEV. A review of antiviral drug discovery efforts for these viruses revealed significant gaps in the data, assays, and models required for successful drug development. This review provides a description of these gaps and highlights specific critical research areas for the development of a target-based drug discovery program for the VEEV, EEEV, and WEEV nonstructural proteins. These efforts will increase the probability of the successful development of a pharmaceutical intervention against these viral threat agents.

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