Targeting HCV Entry For Development of Therapeutics
Received: 28 June 2010 / Revised: 5 August 2010 / Accepted: 16 August 2010 / Published: 18 August 2010
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Recent progress in defining the molecular mechanisms of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) entry affords the opportunity to exploit new viral and host targets for therapeutic intervention. Entry inhibitors would limit the expansion of the infected cell reservoir, and would complement the many
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Recent progress in defining the molecular mechanisms of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) entry affords the opportunity to exploit new viral and host targets for therapeutic intervention. Entry inhibitors would limit the expansion of the infected cell reservoir, and would complement the many replication inhibitors now under development. The current model for the pathway of entry involves the initial docking of the virus onto the cell surface through interactions of virion envelope and associated low density lipoproteins (LDL) with cell surface glycosaminoglycans and lipoprotein receptors, followed by more specific utilization with other hepatocyte membrane proteins: Scavenger Receptor Class B type 1 (SR-BI), CD81, Claudin 1 (CLDN1) and Occludin (OCLN). The use of blockers of these interactions, e.g. specific antibodies, suggests that inhibition of any one step in the entry pathway can inhibit infection. Despite this knowledge base, the tools for compound screening, HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpp) and cell culture virus (HCVcc), and the ability to adapt them to industrial use are only recently available and as a result drug discovery initiatives are in their infancy. Several therapies aiming at modulating the virus envelope to prevent host cell binding are in early clinical testing. The first test case for blocking a cellular co-receptor is an SR-BI modulator. ITX 5061, an orally active small molecule, targets SR-BI and has shown potent antiviral activity against HCVpp and HCVcc. ITX 5061 has exhibited good safety in previous clinical studies, and is being evaluated in the clinic in chronic HCV patients and patients undergoing liver transplantation. Entry inhibitors promise to be valuable players in the future development of curative therapy against HCV.