Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) infections lead to lifelong persistence of the virus, with frequent and sometimes painful recurrences. In immunocompromised patients, HSV can lead to serious complications. In the immune competent, the negative stigma associated with genital herpes and visible facial lesions causes psychological distress. Genital herpes is the main cause of genital ulcers worldwide; the prevalence of HSV-2 infections in the general population ranges from 10% to 60% though infection is often unrecognized. Infected individuals, with/without symptoms can shed HSV and can infect sexual partners.
Since the introduction of the nucleoside analogs decades ago, treatment of HSV infections has remained essentially unchanged. Current therapies for herpes infections fail to adequately reduce the number of HSV episodes, or to fully block transmission. Furthermore, they are associated with slow lesion healing and may be ineffective if initiated too late.
Pritelivir (AIC316) is a highly potent inhibitor of herpes simplex virus (HSV) replication. Pritelivir belongs to a new chemical class and acts via a novel mechanism of action (inhibition of the viral helicase-primase enzyme complex). Due to this novel mechanism of action, and in contrast to the currently used nucleoside analogues, pritelivir does not require activation by viral enzymes and can thus protect uninfected cells. Pritelivir is active against herpes virus strains and retains activity against viruses which have become resistant to current standard drugs. In Phase 2 clinical trials, Pritelivir has shown superiority over the market standard treatment valacyclovir. Pritelivir is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial for immunocompromised patients with acyclovir-resistant infection. In addition, AiCuris is working on a preclinical project for its use in vaginal rings as suppressive therapy.
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