Scientists find new way to beat chickenpox and shingles viruses

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At the University of Georgia (UGA), researchers have forged a new path in the battle against the varicella-zoster virus, notorious for causing chickenpox and shingles.

Scientists David Chu and Uma Singh have not only developed but also patented a molecule with the potential to significantly impact the treatment landscape for these conditions.

Understanding the Varicella Zoster Virus

Chickenpox is a common illness many encounter during childhood, characterized by itchy spots and resultant scars. While the acute stage of the virus usually passes without major incident, the virus doesn’t leave the body.

It lurks, dormant, and can reactivate later in life, causing shingles – a painful rash that can dramatically affect quality of life.

Furthermore, these viruses are kin to those causing oral and genital herpes, forming a family of viruses that can create discomfort and social stigma.

Tackling shingles and herpes has been a challenging journey.

Existing treatments are navigating a path of diminishing returns due to the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the viruses. Moreover, some treatments are tagged with undesirable side effects, creating a desperate need for alternatives.

POM-L-BHDU: A Versatile Warrior Against Viruses

This brings us to POM-L-BHDU, the molecule developed by the UGA team, which showcases promising characteristics in the fight against the varicella-zoster virus.

The molecule’s versatility stands out — it can be administered orally, injected intravenously, or applied topically.

The latter opens the door for potential use in creams to manage herpes outbreaks and shingles with a simple, direct application.

In comparison to existing treatments, POM-L-BHDU has demonstrated a more potent offensive against the virus.

Its topical application not only impedes the virus’s ability to proliferate to other parts of the body but also ensures that smaller quantities of the drug enter the bloodstream, mitigating potential side effects.

Research so far, which includes in vitro and in vivo mouse models and topical studies on human skin, reflects positively on POM-L-BHDU.

It’s effective not only against the varicella-zoster virus but also against herpes simplex 1 and 2 viruses.

Toward Easier Access to Treatment

What’s even more heartening is the research team’s vision of crafting a topical formula that could be available over the counter.

This means that people grappling with herpes outbreaks or shingles could have a simple, potent, and accessible treatment available without navigating the often cumbersome process of securing a prescription.

This promising molecule is not far from moving into phase 1 clinical trials, a critical step towards making it available to the wider public.

The UGA Research Foundation has licensed POM-L-BHDU to Anterogen Co., indicating a forward momentum towards potential commercial availability.

Looking Forward with Optimism

This development by the UGA team isn’t merely a scientific achievement; it’s a beacon of hope for countless individuals worldwide dealing with the varicella-zoster virus and herpes simplex viruses.

The promise of a more effective, safe, and accessible treatment could change lives, alleviate suffering, and transform treatment approaches to these common viruses in the future.

This study and the subsequent development of POM-L-BHDU, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, offers a positive horizon in the medical field, especially for those awaiting better treatment options for persistent and bothersome viruses.

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