Therapy Focus

Viral Mediated Diseases

Infection with Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is extremely common in humans and is usually asymptomatic. However, in immunocompromised hosts 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 of the focus has been 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.

PBI Research Summary

New PBI affiliated research is ongoing with respect to novel plant-derived products that are active against many viruses of relevance to both human and commercial animal health and wellbeing. 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 conducted at Ft. Detrick (U.S. Army facility) 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. Not only is the PBI compound effective at inhibiting viral replication within infected cells it also results in damaged viral progeny. In other words, the virus particles that are produced are ‘damaged’ and far less infective making them targets for our own human immune system. Indeed, a newly published review article written by Robert Newman, PhD, Chief Science Officer of PBI, shows that many enveloped viruses are susceptible to oleander extracts.