Reactivation of latent human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection following transplantation is associated with high morbidity and mortality; yet current therapies for HCMV, which target virus replicating productively, will not target latent viral genomes. There is also increasing evidence that HCMV persistence is associated with long-term diseases such as atherosclerosis, chronic graft rejection and neoplasias and, in these diseases, reactivation of HCMV from latency is also likely to be a major source of virus. Consequently, the ability to therapeutically target latently infected cells could have far reaching clinical implications.
A collaboration between Professors Paul Lehner (CIMR, Department of Medicine) and John Sinclair (Department of Medicine) has shown that changes identified in cells latently infected with HCMV make them targetable chemotherapeutically which could eventually lead to novel strategies to eliminate latently infected cells – something which could not have been considered a decade ago.
Read the full article: Weekes et al., 2013, Science, 340: 199-202