Using animal models of herpesvirus infection, researchers at the NIH have discovered that blocking activity of a host cell protein called LSD1 may reduce HSV infection, viral shedding, and recurrence. LSD1 exhibits epigenetic properties (meaning it has the ability to modify certain proteins that control access to DNA), which remains vital to the infectious cycle of HSV. By blocking LSD1 (using the drug tranylcypromine), researchers were able to reduce symptoms of HSV disease, prevent viral shedding, and limit recurrence. Since the HSV genome is subject to epigenetic changes, the inhibition of LSD1 would even help prevent HSV infection during the virus's latent phase.
Furthermore, by blocking a cellular protein rather than a viral component, this new treatment may limit or slow the ability of herpesvirus to mutate into a drug-resistant form.