Targeting host factors to treat West Nile and dengue viral infections.
West Nile (WNV) and Dengue (DENV) viruses are major arboviral human pathogens belonging to the genus Flavivirus. At the current time, there are no approved prophylactics (e.g., vaccines) or specific therapeutics available to prevent or treat human infections by these pathogens. Due to their minimal genome, these viruses require many host molecules for their replication and this offers a therapeutic avenue wherein host factors can be exploited as treatment targets. Since several host factors appear to be shared by many flaviviruses the strategy may result in pan-flaviviral inhibitors and may also attenuate the rapid emergence of drug resistant mutant viruses. The scope of this strategy is greatly enhanced by the recent en masse identification of host factors impacting on WNV and DENV infection. Excellent proof-of-principle experimental demonstrations for host-targeted control of infection and infection-induced pathogenesis have been reported for both WNV and DENV. These include exploiting not only those host factors supporting infection, but also targeting host processes contributing to pathogenesis and innate immune responses. While these early studies validated the host-targeting approach, extensive future investigations spanning a range of aspects are needed for a successful deployment in humans.
Krishnan, MN; Garcia-Blanco, MA
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