Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Varicella Virus Growth Inhibited

Technology #2246

“Lead Inventors: Saul J. Silverstein, Christos Kyratsous.

Chickenpox/Varicella/Shingles Virus Remains Dormant in the Body: Combination antiviral therapies are considered to be superior to monotherapies because they often have more anti-viral benefits and less toxicity. Novel anti-viral mechanisms are crucial for developing novel combination therapies for infectious diseases. For example, Primary Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) infection results in chickenpox (varicella). After recovery, VZV remains latent in the spine, and in about 10-20% of cases, reactivation of latent VZV later in life produce shingles (herpes zoster), causing serious complications. Current treatment for shingles aims at reducing symptoms. However, there remains no cure for shingles based on fighting the virus itself.

Anti-Viral Therapy for Varicella Infection Prevents Its Growth: This invention identified a novel anti-viral mechanism that is important for developing novel combination therapy, using VZV infection as an example. Infection and reactivation of VZV requires the transport of a viral protein ORF29p from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Specifically, several host proteins that directly regulate VZV transport are identified, including heat shock proteins (hsp) that are activated during a period of stress. Inhibition of these Hsps can block VZV replication and therefore provides novel molecular targets for treating shingles as well as other viral diseases.

Applications: • Provides an antibiotic effective to inhibit replication of VZV in a host cell • Provides an siRNA effective to inhibit VZV in a host cell • Provides an assay to screen for candidates that inhibit VZV replication by quantitating the change in a chaperone protein activity • Provides novel anti-viral mechanism for developing therapies against other viral infections such as HSV

Advantages: • Provides a novel and effective method to control or inhibit infection/reactivation of the VZV virus for treating and preventing chicken pox and shingles • Provides an attractive alternative to the chicken pox vaccine (which has a poor rate of disease prevention) to alleviate the symptoms and lessen the severity of chicken pox/shingles • Provides a potential therapeutic method for other viral diseases such as outbreaks of HSV, which is highly homologous to VZV and shares a similar method of activation

Patent Status: Patent Pending (international patent application filed)

Publications: Journal of Virology, July 2007, Vol. 81, No. 14, p7491-7503

Licensing Status: Available for Licensing and Sponsored Research Support