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Future Med Chem. 2010 Jul;2(7):1099-105. doi: 10.4155/fmc.10.197.

Therapeutic implications of new insights into the critical role of VP16 in initiating the earliest stages of HSV reactivation from latency.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Biochemistry, University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0524, USA.


Reactivation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a leading cause of fatal encephalitis in the USA and recurrent herpetic keratitis is a major infectious cause of blindness. There is no effective vaccine and no cure for HSV latency. While current antiviral drugs reduce viral replication, none prevent the initiation of reactivation in the nervous system and, thus, chronic inflammatory damage proceeds. The discovery that HSV VP16 is necessary for the exit from latency represents the first potential target for preventing the chronic inflammatory insult associated with HSV reactivation. Blocking VP16 transactivation would reduce the spread of the virus in the population and, importantly, presumably reduce or prevent the pathological long term chronic inflammation in the nervous system.

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