Infection with CMV is extremely common in humans, and is usually asymptomatic. In immunocompromised hosts, however, such as transplant recipients and patients with AIDS, CMV infection is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is also the most common congenitally-acquired infection and the leading infectious agent causing mental retardation and deafness in congenitally infected children. In recent years CMV has been associated with a variety of syndromes including hypertension, severe pulmonary complications in patients in intensive care-units, and with a specific brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme. Although the exact role of CMV in these syndromes is unclear, CMV replication appears to affect the natural history and outcome of disease processes in immunocompetent individuals as well. Unfortunately, despite significant ongoing research effort, there is still no CMV vaccine approved for universal or targeted use. Thus, it is important and necessary to develop preventive and treatment modalities for prevention and treatment of CMV infections.
The need for new and effective therapeutic strategies for treatment and elimination of HIV infection is also evident. While much focus in the past and even presently is centered around development and testing of drugs such as AZT that inhibit viral replication by targeting reverse transcriptase activity other approaches beyond RT inhibitors are needed to deepen the therapeutic armamentarium.
New PBI affiliated research is ongoing with respect to novel plant-derived products that are active against both HIV and CMV. In addition, recent research conducted at major facilities within the USA has now provided evidence that the antiviral activity of PBI-05204 is even effective against viruses that cause deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg viruses. This research is proving to show new mechanisms of action and activity at levels that are believed to be effective in a clinical setting. In addition, research conducted at Southern Methodist University has shown surprising activity against HTLV-1, a virus that affects the quality of life in many third world countries around the world. This branch of research is new to PBI but demonstrates great promise.