Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bone marrow transplantation: New substance protects against dangerous virus, almost without side-effects

Date:
May 8, 2014
Source:
Technische Universitaet Dresden
Summary:
Letermovir keeps the ubiquitous Cytomegalovirus in check for weakened immune systems of infected transplant patients. Researchers suggest that with this substance, cytomegalovirus, also known as human herpes-virus 5 can be effectively suppressed. The virus is harmless for healthy people but highly dangerous for the immune-suppressed. This evolutionarily ancient virus cannot be destroyed within the body. However, because of this completely new mechanism of action at a cellular level, the severe side-effects that are seen with current medications are no longer observed.

Prof. Gerhard Ehninger.
Credit: Christoph Reichelt

Letermovir keeps the ubiquitous Cytomegalovirus in check for weakened immune systems of infected transplant patients.

"In my whole research carrier, I have never seen anything like this in a highly active substance" said Prof. Gerhard Ehninger enthusiastically. The world-renowned Dresdner haematologist, Director of the University Cancer Center (UCC) of the University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, and of the German Stem Cell Donor Registry, was the Coordinating Investigator for a national and international study of the virus blocker letermovir. "Using letermovir, we block the release of replicating virus from the infected diseased cells" explained Prof. Ehninger. At a cellular level, the substance's activity has no effect upon other processes in the body. The substance's almost side-effect free activity could be impressively demonstrated in a controlled, double-blind study: for the first time the placebo affect could be examined here meaning that letermovir is so well tolerated by the weakened body that even fewer side-effects were observed than in patients who received no active treatment. The medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine published the ground-breaking results from the German and US research team. The edition's editorial also focused on the work in detail -- A sign of the quality and importance of this study.

With this substance we can effectively suppress cytomegalovirus, also known as human herpes-virus 5. The virus is harmless for healthy people but highly dangerous for the immune-suppressed. This evolutionarily ancient virus cannot be destroyed within the body" explained Prof. Ehninger. Because of this completely new mechanism of action at a cellular level, the severe side-effects that are seen with current medications are no longer observed. For this reason we can treat patients with letermovir even on the day of bone marrow transplantation and fight the virus earlier -- because of the side-effects caused by current drugs, this was previously only possible on day 30 after transplantation, in order to minimise the risk to the already weakened patient.

A new infection or the reactivation of a pre-existing cytomegalovirus infection can lead to serious problems in an immune-suppressed person. It can lead to CMV-associated inflammation of the bowel with severe diarrhea, or inflammation of the liver or lungs. For a kidney transplant patient, CMV reactivation could lead to reduced functioning in the transplanted organ or even to loss of the transplant. Indeed, the virus attacks the retina and leads to blindness in 30% of AIDS patients not receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy. Furthermore, infection with cytomegalovirus is also associated with severe liver and lung diseases, hypertension and arteriosclerosis.

The active ingredient, letermovir, which was tested in an extensive clinical study by scientists in Dresden, Houston, Wuppertal, Münster, Würzburg, Iowa, Chicago and Stanford, sponsored by the company AiCuris, acts upon a different site to that used by current anti-virals which act upon the DNA polymerase i.e., upon the replication of the virus DNA by switching off a particular protein. However this protein is also used in the rest of the body, not only for virus replication. In some cases this leads to profound side-effects such as supressing the generation of new blood cells or damaging kidney function.

Through this multicentre study it also became apparent that virus testing must be more strongly standardised in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. In a few cases, blood samples taken during study were diagnosed negative for virus replication in the clinic, however in the central study laboratory precisely this reactivation could be shown. A reliable and precise measurement of this parameter is essential for proper and timely treatment with antiviral drug.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Dresden. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Roy F. Chemaly, Andrew J. Ullmann, Susanne Stoelben, Marie Paule Richard, Martin Bornhäuser, Christoph Groth, Hermann Einsele, Margarida Silverman, Kathleen M. Mullane, Janice Brown, Horst Nowak, Katrin Kölling, Hans P. Stobernack, Peter Lischka, Holger Zimmermann, Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, Richard E. Champlin, Gerhard Ehninger. Letermovir for Cytomegalovirus Prophylaxis in Hematopoietic-Cell Transplantation. New England Journal of Medicine, 2014; 370 (19): 1781 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1309533

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Dresden. "Bone marrow transplantation: New substance protects against dangerous virus, almost without side-effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095458.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Dresden. (2014, May 8). Bone marrow transplantation: New substance protects against dangerous virus, almost without side-effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095458.htm
Technische Universitaet Dresden. "Bone marrow transplantation: New substance protects against dangerous virus, almost without side-effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095458.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) — As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins