Current and new cytomegalovirus antivirals and novel animal model strategies.
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a significant health problem among immunosuppressed individuals. In particular, transplant and AIDS patients and the developing fetus in utero are highly susceptible to CMV. In these vulnerable populations, infection leads to life threatening end organ viral disease or in surviving newborn babies to deafness or to mental retardation. Currently, the most effective way to control CMV infection, given the lack of an effective vaccine, is by antiviral therapy. However, available antivirals suffer from complications associated with prolonged use, such as drug toxicity as well as the emergence of resistant strains of virus. Additionally, since CMV has multiple complex immune evasion strategies, to avoid innate and adaptive immune responses, there is a need for new antiviral development. Any antiviral should be tested in a controlled animal model but species specificity of HCMV precludes the direct study of the virus in an animal model. Consequently, animal CMV in their respective animal host are used to study intervention strategies. In this review, both current and new antiviral strategies are discussed as are the various animal models and strategies to improve existing antiviral animal models by humanizing animal CMV.
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