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US News & World Report: Animal Study Offers Hope for a Better Herpes Treatment [June 2021]


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Jeremy Spokein

Hey everyone, just ran into this article, which gives us all another glimmer of hope! :)

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THURSDAY, June 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Aiming to deliver a one-two punch to the herpes virus, animal research on an experimental drug found it tackled active infections and reduced or eliminated the risk of future outbreaks.

Existing treatments, such as Zovirax, Valtrex or Famvir, are only effective at the first task; they can help treat cold sores and genital eruptions once a herpes outbreak occurs. But the new drug has a different goal in mind: a full cure from the threat of a chronic, lifelong disease.

How? By penetrating the nervous system to get at hidden virus that otherwise lies in wait, ready to trigger new outbreaks.

"Cold sores and genital herpes are caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus," explained study author Gerald Kleymann. They're the "blisters" you may notice on people's lips and skin, he noted.

Kleymann is the CEO of the German company Innovative Molecules GmbH, which developed the drug.

Because herpes is so widespread, treating it is no small matter, he said. More than one of every two men and women are infected with herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), while roughly one-quarter are infected with genital herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2), Kleymann noted.

"Lip blisters are considered a social stigma, and genital herpes can ruin your sex life," Kleymann said. "[When] giving birth, the virus can be transmitted to the newborn, with fatal consequences. Also, the virus can be sight-impairing in case of an eye infection, or deadly in case of infected immunocompromised transplant patients, or in rare cases when patients develop a herpes encephalitis."

On top of that, "once you are infected you carry the virus for life in your nerve cells," he added. "And you may experience frequent recurrent disease lifelong." The study team estimated that latent virus triggers recurring outbreaks in about 30% of patients.

Known as IM-250, the new drug has been tested on both mice and guinea pigs. In mice, the drug demonstrated an ability to promote a quicker recovery from acute outbreaks, while also safely killing latent virus lodged in infected cells. In guinea pigs, the drug appeared to reduce or completely eliminate the risk for recurring outbreaks. And the protective benefit endured well after completion of a week-long treatment session in the guinea pigs, the findings showed.

Beyond that, IM-250 also appeared to be effective even in treatment-resistant infections that failed to respond to standard herpes medications.

And that's because "the new drug candidate tackles the virus where it hides and resides, namely in neurons of the face and genitals," Kleymann said.

The findings were published June 16 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore, said the preliminary finding is "encouraging news."

"Current treatments are effective at reducing the severity of infections, but are not able to eradicate the virus as it becomes latent in nerve cells, which the antivirals really can't have much impact on. It is this latent reservoir of virus that causes recurrence," Adalja said.

"Having a drug that is able to reduce the latent reservoir [of herpes virus] would be a major advantage in the treatment of herpes," said Adalja, who was not involved in the German study.

 

Still, he cautioned that, as with all animal research, the finding "needs to be replicated in humans."

On that front, Kleymann said that human clinical trials are already in the planning stages.

"If efficacy demonstrated in animal models translates into efficacy in humans, this will be a breakthrough," Kleymann added, "since the drug candidate has the potential to affect the natural history of herpes simplex disease, and reduce the frequency of viral shedding and recurrent disease."

More information

There's more on herpes at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

 

SOURCES: Gerald Kleymann, CEO, Innovative Molecules GmbH, Munich, Germany; Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; Science Translational Medicine, June 16, 2021

LINK: https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-06-17/animal-study-offers-hope-for-a-better-herpes-treatment

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Jeremy Spokein

Also another news topic in Yahoo Finance!

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/science-translational-medicine-publication-innovative-180000624.html

 

Munich, Germany, June 16, 2021 - Innovative Molecules GmbH, a drug development company focused on developing next-generation treatments for Herpes simplex-induced diseases, today announced preclinical data demonstrating that the Company’s drug candidate IM-250 affects acute as well as chronic neural Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections in mice and guinea pigs. IM-250 is a proprietary, novel helicase-primase inhibitor. The study entitled “A helicase-primase drug candidate with sufficient target tissue exposure affects latent neural herpes simplex virus infections” was conducted by a team of researchers from the U.S. and Germany and was published today in Science Translational Medicine.

 

In various animal models of HSV, IM-250 demonstrated potent anti-herpes activity, a novel mechanism of action, a low frequency of HSV resistance, and a favorable pharmacokinetic and safety profile. IM-250 is devoid of off-target activity observed with other anti-HSV drugs and of potential metabolites of previous drug candidates targeting helicase-primase. It leads to improved target tissue exposure in particular in neurons and exhibits superior efficacy in preventing and treating HSV infection and disease in animal models as compared to standard of care. Of note, the compound not only reduces the duration of symptoms and time to healing, but also reduces the frequency of recurrences and viral shedding.

“IM-250 has distinct advantages over standard-of-care therapies and represents a promising therapeutic for chronic HSV infection, including nucleoside-resistant Herpes simplex,” said Prof. Dr. Gerald Kleymann, CEO and founder of Innovative Molecules, and senior author of the study. “The most outstanding observation is its ability to attenuate recurrent infections and based on our preliminary results there is hope that it could make infections of neurotrophic herpes simplex viruses treatable – even when they have established life-long latency after primary infection. To our knowledge, this has never been observed with any anti-HSV compound before.“

In the study, intermittent monotherapy with IM-250 or combination therapy with IM-250 and Valacyclovir (VAVC) standard of care resulted in a statistically significant reduction in both cumulative recurrent disease score versus placebo and in HSV-2 shedding in the off-treatment period. The reduction in the frequency of viral shedding was accompanied by a reduction in the cumulative mean viral load. All in all, the study observed a statistically significant increase in disease-free animals compared to placebo both on and off therapy from the first treatment cycle.

“IM-250 bears the potential to overcome significant limitations of current HSV therapies regarding resistance, recurrent viral shedding and disease, and severe CNS or disseminated disease,” said infectious disease specialist David I. Bernstein from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (Cincinnati, OH), and co-author of the study. “Our results also challenge the traditional belief that herpes simplex disease is not effectively treatable. While we do not yet understand how the drug affects latency or reactivation after cessation of treatment, we hypothesize that the application of the drug during an infection leads to a reduction or inactivation of latent DNA in neurons or to a reduction in the number of latently infected neurons.”

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About Herpes simplex infection and disease
Herpes simplex disease is a contagious, lifelong infection with high incidence and prevalence data, a quiet pandemic with a huge health burden and a risk factor for acquiring HIV, HPV and Alzheimer’s disease. At least 50 % of the population is infected with Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), mostly herpes labialis, whereas approx. 25% of the population is infected with Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), mostly genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection/disease. Latency is established for life by deposit of episomal HSV DNA in sensory neurons. Upon diverse stimuli, HSV reactivates from the latent reservoir causing recurrent herpes disease. Up to 30% of patients suffer from frequent recurrences which could be painful, socially isolating and even life-threatening in immuno-compromised patients. There is currently no treatment available that is able to reduce or eradicate the virus reservoir as such.

About Innovative Molecules
Innovative Molecules GmbH is a drug development company aiming for setting a new treatment standard for Herpes simplex induced diseases. The company is focusing on the development of IM-250, a potent, second-generation helicase-primase inhibitor of HSV-1 and HSV-2. Due to its potency, excellent neuronal tissue exposure and long half-life, IM-250 has the potential to change the way Herpes simplex induced diseases are treated. Preclinical data indicates that IM-250 does not only block active viral replication but might be able to reduce or even eradicate the viral reservoir, ultimately leading to less recurrences or even to a cure from this latent, life-long infection.


For more information: www.innovativemolecules.com

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very encouraging news!  So glad there is research still going on out there relating to this virus!  I just wish it did not take so long to get to and through the human studies!  Years on top of years before we can expect any results.

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Jeremy Spokein

I believe that developing the coronavirus vaccines with such urgency did open up a lot of doors for quicker and more efficient research towards finding a cure for herpes, as well. Perhaps the silver lining we all have been looking for! :)

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HelpingAngel

So far, the only tests they have done are tests shortly after an initial infection.  So it's not yet clear whether it really eradicates the latent viral reservoir, or simply acts to reduce the viral reservoir before it has fully formed.

Their tests did not seem to include situations where the latent viral reservoir has been long established.  

I'm cautiously optimistic about it, but they haven't yet shown that this can really eradicate the viral reservoir in the true sense.  Or whether it just reduces the seeding of a viral reservoir at the initial infection.  If it's just the second one, it would still be nice for newly infected peeps, as they could take this drug and hav ea better long term prognosis.  But it remains to be seen whether this will help long term HSV positives.  

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22 hours ago, HelpingAngel said:

So far, the only tests they have done are tests shortly after an initial infection.  So it's not yet clear whether it really eradicates the latent viral reservoir, or simply acts to reduce the viral reservoir before it has fully formed.

Their tests did not seem to include situations where the latent viral reservoir has been long established.  

I'm cautiously optimistic about it, but they haven't yet shown that this can really eradicate the viral reservoir in the true sense.  Or whether it just reduces the seeding of a viral reservoir at the initial infection.  If it's just the second one, it would still be nice for newly infected peeps, as they could take this drug and hav ea better long term prognosis.  But it remains to be seen whether this will help long term HSV positives.  

Currently, the work at FHC is the only one that appears to be able to edit out existing latent virus; at least in mice. Animal tests are currently in progress using guinea pigs ,which is a better model. This work will be conducted over the next few years.

Edited by Cas9
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HelpingAngel
5 hours ago, Cas9 said:

Currently, the work at FHC is the only one that appears to be able to edit out existing latent virus; at least in mice. Animal tests are currently in progress using guinea pigs which is a better model. This work will be conducted over the next few years.

That's right.  For established infections, only the FHC have been successful so far. 

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16 hours ago, HelpingAngel said:

That's right.  For established infections, only the FHC have been successful so far. 

Almost 500K has been donated to FHC for Dr. Jerome's work. Were you aware of that?

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HelpingAngel
13 hours ago, Cas9 said:

Almost 500K has been donated to FHC for Dr. Jerome's work. Were you aware of that?

Yes, I follow the fundraiser and I've donated.  Really exciting to know that we are a part of the process of making the lives of HSV positives better in the future.  

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Jeremy Spokein
On 7/31/2021 at 4:45 PM, HelpingAngel said:

Yes, I follow the fundraiser and I've donated.  Really exciting to know that we are a part of the process of making the lives of HSV positives better in the future.  

Amazing, I'm so surprised that the government hasn't stepped in to help fund any of this research. FHC seems super promising, but as another poster said, I'll remain "cautiously optimistic." I just know that there's a solution to every problem, all we need is time and persistence.

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