The consortium will create innovative opportunities for the application of the novel technologies of three SMEs in the development of a new generation of anti-herpes-virus treatments. Herpesviruses cause some cancers and many human diseases varying from afflictions of moderate severity that none-the-less can cause extended morbidity, to serious infections that are life threatening. This is particularly true in immuno-compromised patients including transplant recipients and HIV-infected individuals, but even in healthy people herpes-viruses can cause serious problems, for example during childbirth. Congenital HCMV infection is a leading cause of birth defects, and HSV-2 infection necessitates birth by Caesarian section.
At present the options for antiviral therapy are extremely limited, and, because of toxicity, the current anti-herpes drugs cannot be administered to pregnant women. There is a continuing need to develop alternative treatments because drug-resistant viruses are evolving. The technologies that are being developed by three SMEs in TargetHerpes will be applied in connection with the fundamental advances being made in Europe's leading herpes-virus research laboratories, to press forward the search for novel, effective treatments that can be used against a broad spectrum of herpes-virus diseases.
The project will target different herpes-viruses at different stages of their infections in order to inhibit virus; entry, evasion of host defences, persistence in infected individuals, reactivation from latency. These objectives will be achieved by improving and using the reagents and methodologies of the SMEs, thus providing opportunities in product development and marketing, and a foundation for the SMEs in the commercial development of successful treatments and methodologies. In addition to these major benefits for the SMEs, TargetHerpes expects to make significant contributions to the LifeSciHealth goals of FP6 in combating major human diseases.
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