Author(s): Lee AM, Pasquato A, Kunz S
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Abstract Hemorrhagic fevers caused by arenaviruses are among the most devastating emerging human diseases. Considering the number of individuals affected, the current lack of a licensed vaccine, and the limited therapeutic options, arenaviruses are arguably among the most neglected tropical pathogens and the development of efficacious anti-arenaviral drugs is of high priority. Over the past years significant efforts have been undertaken to identify novel potent inhibitors of arenavirus infection. High throughput screening of small molecule libraries employing pseudotype platforms led to the discovery of several potent and broadly active inhibitors of arenavirus cell entry that are effective against the major hemorrhagic arenaviruses. Mechanistic studies revealed that these novel entry inhibitors block arenavirus membrane fusion and provided novel insights into the unusual mechanism of this process. The success of these approaches highlights the power of small molecule screens in antiviral drug discovery and establishes arenavirus membrane fusion as a robust drug target. These broad screenings have been complemented by strategies targeting cellular factors involved in productive arenavirus infection. Approaches targeting the cellular protease implicated in maturation of the fusion-active viral envelope glycoprotein identified the proteolytic processing of the arenavirus glycoprotein precursor as a novel and promising target for anti-arenaviral strategies. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Virology
and referenced in Journal of Bioprocessing & Biotechniques