Scientists have developed a novel treatment approach for persistent viral infections such as herpes. Using animal models of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, researchers show that blocking the activity of a host cell protein called LSD1 reduces HSV infection, shedding (release of viral particles) and recurrence. LSD1, which is essential for HSV's infectious cycle, modifies certain host proteins that control access to DNA. These modifications, known as "epigenetic" changes, help determine how and when genes are used. The collaborative effort, led by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates the potential of epigenetic therapy as an antiviral strategy.
JM Hill et al. Inhibition of LSD1 reduces herpesvirus infection, shedding, and recurrence by promoting epigenetic suppression of viral genomes. Science Translational Medicine DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010643 (2014).
Thomas M. Kristie, Ph.D., chief of the Molecular Genetics Section in the NIAID Laboratory of Viral Diseases and the senior author of the paper, is available for comment.
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