Classical antiviral therapy targets viral functions, mostly viral enzymes or receptors. Successful examples include precursor herpesvirus drugs, antiretroviral drugs that target reverse transcriptase and protease, influenza virus directed compounds as well as more recent direct antiviral agents (DAA) applied in the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, from early times, the possibility of targeting the host cell to contain the infection has frequently re-emerged as an alternative and complementary antiviral strategy. Advantages of this approach include an increased threshold to the emergence of resistance and the possibility to target multiple viruses. Major pitfalls are related to important cellular side effects and cytotoxicity. In this mini-review, the concept of host directed antiviral therapy will be discussed with a focus on the most recent advances in the field of Flaviviruses, a family of important human pathogens for which we do not have antivirals available in the clinics.
Keywords: antiviral; flavivirus; host-directed therapy; mechanism of action; screening tools.