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Therapeutic Exploitation of Viral Interference

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 4 ]


Imre Kovesdi* and Tibor Bakacs   Pages 423 - 432 ( 10 )


Viral interference, originally, referred to a state of temporary immunity, is a state whereby infection with a virus limits replication or production of a second infecting virus. However, replication of a second virus could also be dominant over the first virus. In fact, dominance can alternate between the two viruses. Expression of type I interferon genes is many times upregulated in infected epithelial cells. Since the interferon system can control most, if not all, virus infections in the absence of adaptive immunity, it was proposed that viral induction of a nonspecific localized temporary state of immunity may provide a strategy to control viral infections. Clinical observations also support such a theory, which gave credence to the development of superinfection therapy (SIT). SIT is an innovative therapeutic approach where a non-pathogenic virus is used to infect patients harboring a pathogenic virus.

For the functional cure of persistent viral infections and for the development of broad- spectrum antivirals against emerging viruses a paradigm shift was recently proposed. Instead of the virus, the therapy should be directed at the host. Such a host-directed-therapy (HDT) strategy could be the activation of endogenous innate immune response via toll-like receptors (TLRs). Superinfection therapy is such a host-directed-therapy, which has been validated in patients infected with two completely different viruses, the hepatitis B (DNA), and hepatitis C (RNA) viruses. SIT exerts post-infection interference via the constant presence of an attenuated non-pathogenic avian double- stranded (ds) RNA viral vector which boosts the endogenous innate (IFN) response. SIT could, therefore, be developed into a biological platform for a new “one drug, multiple bugs” broad-spectrum antiviral treatment approach.


Viral interference, persistent HBV infection, viral superinfection, dsRNA virus, antiviral gene responses, pandemic preparedness.


HepC, Inc., Budapest, HepC, Inc., Budapest

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