Finding New Ways to Cure Human Cytomegalovirus Disease


Christopher Benedict, Ph.D.
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Infectious Disease

Blocking a novel trimeric protein complex that mediates HCMV entry into host cells

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus carried by the majority of people. While most are asymptomatic, in those with compromised immunity this virus can promote transplant rejection, vascular disease, cancer and other autoimmune disorders. Additionally, HCMV is the #1 infectious cause of congenital birth defects, the primary reason a vaccine is being actively developed.

A discovery made by researchers at La Jolla Institute for Immunology and Louisiana State University is a composition that could aid not only in its detection but more importantly, in the prevention of and amelioration of persistent HCMV infection.

Dr. Chris Benedict and his team of collaborators have demonstrated that the HCMV glycoprotein UL141, previously shown by his group to inhibit the immune response to this virus, is also incorporated into the viral particle.

UL141 forms a complex with the HCMV gH/UL116 envelope protein complex, and therefore clearly represents a novel and exciting target for therapeutic intervention strategies designed to inhibit viral entry and spread.