As part of their investigation of Akt's role in herpes infections, the researchers took laboratory cultures of those human cell types and mixed them for 15 minutes with four different drugs known to inhibit Akt. The cells were then exposed for one hour to herpes simplex virus 2. All four drugs significantly inhibited herpes virus infection in each of the cell types. By contrast, cells not pretreated with the Akt inhibitors were readily infected on exposure to the virus.
"For people infected with herpes, the drug acyclovir helps prevent herpes outbreaks from recurring and lowers the risk of transmitting the infection to others," said Dr. Herold. "But some people have herpes infections that don't respond to acyclovir, and unfortunately there is no effective vaccine. So new approaches for suppressing and treating herpes infections are badly needed, and our findings indicate that inhibiting Akt should be a useful therapeutic strategy to pursue."
The paper "HSV activates Akt to trigger calcium release and promote viral entry: novel candidate target for treatment and suppression" was published online by The FASEB Journal. In addition to Dr. Herold, other authors of the paper (all of them at Einstein) were lead author Natalia Cheshenko, Ph.D., Janie B. Trepanier, Ph.D., Martha Stefanidou, Niall Buckley, Pablo Gonzalez and William Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI-061679) and the Center for AIDS Research at Einstein and Montefiore Medical Center (AI-51519).