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 potent inhibitor of HSV replication. It stems from a novel chemical class, has a new mode of action (inhibition of the viral helicase-primase enzyme complex) and a favorably long plasma half-life. Based on this new mode of action – and in contrast to nucleoside analogues - pritelivir does not require activation by viral enzymes and therefore can also protect uninfected cells. Pritelivir is active against both labial and genital herpes virus strains and retains activity against viruses which have become resistant to marketed drugs.
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