Heart failure drug may double as herpes virus treatment

Spironolactone, a drug used to manage salt absorption and fluid retention in heart failure patients, also plays a role in inhibiting function of a protein essential to Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family that also causes mononucleosis and has been linked to cancer.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlines how the drug acts to disrupt SM protein at key stages in the viral life cycle, and might form the basis of an effective drug to fight Epstein-Barr virus. Current drugs for Epstein-Barr and other viruses in the herpes family are focused on targeting replication of viral DNA, according to the paper.

"We have shown that spironolactone specifically acts to inhibit Epstein-Barr virus SM protein function, which is required for expression of several … Epstein-Barr Virus genes and infectious Epstein-Barr Virus production," the authors wrote. "The effect of spironolactone parallels the effect of knocking out SM function, which is critical for expression of Epstein-Barr virus."

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