Cytomegalovirus antivirals and development of improved animal models
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INTRODUCTION: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous pathogen that establishes a lifelong asymptomatic infection in healthy individuals. Infection of immunesuppressed individuals causes serious illness. Transplant and AIDS patients are highly susceptible to CMV leading to life-threatening end-organ disease. Another vulnerable population is the developing fetus in utero, where congenital infection can result in surviving newborns with long-term developmental problems. There is no vaccine licensed for CMV and current antivirals suffer from complications associated with prolonged treatment. These include drug toxicity and emergence of resistant strains. There is an obvious need for new antivirals. Candidate intervention strategies are tested in controlled preclinical animal models but species specificity of human CMV precludes the direct study of the virus in an animal model. AREAS COVERED: This review explores the current status of CMV antivirals and development of new drugs. This includes the use of animal models and the development of new improved models such as humanized animal CMV and bioluminescent imaging of virus in animals in real time. EXPERT OPINION: Various new CMV antivirals are in development, some with greater spectrum of activity against other viruses. Although the greatest need is in the setting of transplant patients, there remains an unmet need for a safe antiviral strategy against congenital CMV. This is especially important as an effective CMV vaccine remains an elusive goal. In this regard, greater emphasis should be placed on suitable preclinical animal models and greater collaboration between industry and academia.
author list (cited authors)
McGregor, A., & Choi, K. Y.