Scientists at the University of Utah have discovered the reason why spironolactone, a medication often used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure, is also able to treat Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection.
EBV, a type of herpes virus, can cause mononucleosis (the “Kissing Disease”) as well as some cancers.
The researchers said they did not initially understand why spironolactone, which functions primarily in the kidney, was able to treat EBV. However, after they connected their findings with a French study from four years ago, they said learned that the medicine limits the functions of a protein known as XPB. This protein is a component of the Transcription factor II Human (TFIIH), which is involved in making sure that certain genes code for the correct proteins.
After they conducted experiments by lowering the amount of XPB in EBV-infected host cells, the scientists said they found that a protein responsible for EBV replication, known as SM, did not function properly. In turn, SM was unable to facilitate the translation of fifteen proteins that the virus needed to continue replicating.
These findings suggest, as per the researchers, that SM needs XPB in order to facilitate Epstein-Barr virus replication. Because spironolactone is able to limit the functions of XPB, it is able to limit and treat the virus.
Normally, EBV remains latent in the body after initial infection and does not continue to replicate after the first treatment. However, it can become reactivated and result in disease even years after the initial infection. To prevent this, researchers say their optimal goal is to find a new treatment that can efficiently prevent the virus from replicating at all, which is what an efficient XPB inhibitor could essentially do.
The discovery of the link between XPB and SM function absolutely serves as a marker to continue research and find more novel treatments and pathways that can address infections with viruses like EBV.
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