Emerging therapies for herpes viral infections (types 1 - 8)

Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2004 Nov;9(2):237-56. doi: 10.1517/14728214.9.2.237.


There are eight members of the herpesviridae family: herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), HSV-2, varicella-zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus-6, human herpes virus-7 and human herpes virus-8. The diseases caused by viruses of the herpesviridae family are treated with and managed by systemic and topical antiviral therapies and immunomodulating drugs. Because these viruses establish a latent state in hosts, antiherpetic agents, such as nucleoside analogues, only control symptoms of disease or prevent outbreaks, and cannot cure the infections. There is a need for treatments that require less frequent dosing, can be taken even when lesions are more advanced than the first signs or symptoms, and can treat resistant strains of the viruses without the toxicities of existing therapies. Immunomodulating agents, such as resiquimod, can act on the viruses indirectly by inducing host production of cytokines, and can thereby reduce recurrences of herpes. The new helicase primase inhibitors, which are the first non-nucleoside antiviral compounds, are being investigated for treatment of HSV disease, including infections resistant to existing therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / analogs & derivatives
  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cytomegalovirus / drug effects
  • Drug Therapy / trends
  • Herpes Simplex / drug therapy
  • Herpes Zoster / drug therapy
  • Herpesviridae / drug effects
  • Herpesviridae Infections / drug therapy*
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / drug effects
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / drug effects
  • Humans


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Acyclovir