Design of targeted anti-viral therapies
Enveloped viruses (HIV, influenza virus, herpes viruses, pox viruses, filoviruses, coronaviruses, etc.) cause considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide. In only a few cases are effective therapeutic options available, and in many cases viral infections can lead to death (e.g. Ebola virus, HIV, SARS, etc.).
Recognizing that virtually all enveloped viruses export viral proteins into the plasma membranes of their host cells, we hypothesized that infected host cells could be distinguished from uninfected host cells based on the presence/absence of surface-exposed viral proteins. Motivated by this hypothesis, we then undertook to design targeting ligands that would bind exclusively to the exposed domains of exported viral proteins, thereby allowing their use in specific targeting of attached drugs solely to virus-infected cells. Using this approach, we have recently designed targeted drugs for the treatment of HIV, influenza virus and hepatitis B virus infected cells. Early animal data suggest that this targeting approach hold considerable promise.