Development of Novel Treatment Against Congenital Viral Infections

Principal Investigator(s):

Yi-Chieh Perng, Ph.D. - Medicine

Status: Completed

Center(s): Center for Pediatric Pulmonary Disease

Award Mechanism: Postdoctoral Fellowship

Project Period: 2/1/2015 - 1/31/2017

Total Amount: $60,000

Project Summary:

Viral infections are severe threats to neonatal health. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading viral cause of birth defects in newborns. Congenital CMV infection can cause permanent disabilities such as hearing and vision loss, mental retardation, and death. CMV infection is also an important cause of neonatal pneumonia and is relevant to the goals of the Center for Pediatric Pulmonary Disease. However, there is a lack of effective and safe treatments for neonatal CMV infection. A drug-repurposing approach identified iBETs—small-molecule inhibitors of BET bromodomain proteins that are being developed by pharmaceutical companies for cancers, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and male contraception—as a novel antiviral candidate. Preliminary experiments showed that iBETs inhibit CMV infection in vitro. The proposed research will use iBETs as a novel antiviral agent to target CMV infections.

The aims of this proposal are to determine:

1. The mechanism by which iBETs inhibit CMV replication.

2. If iBETs can function in vivo to protect mice from CMV infection.

The basic research findings from these studies could be rapidly translated into clinical applications for currently untreatable neonatal CMV infections.