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Making the most of the host

Although recent attention in the HCV space has focused on positive FDA panel recommendations for the protease inhibitors telaprevir and Victrelis

boceprevir from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc., respectively,1 a French-led academic group has now uncovered targets on host cells that could also be inhibited to impede HCV entry.2

The new targets include a pair of receptor tyrosine kinases-epidermal

growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR1; HER1; ERBB1) and EPH receptor A2 (EPHA2)-that are inhibited by the marketed cancer drugs Tarceva erlotinib and Sprycel dasatinib (see "Host factors involved in HCV entry and their potential as therapeutic targets").

The team, led by Thomas Baumert, began to suspect that tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) could have antiviral activity in humans after University Hospital Pontchaillou researchers published a case study in which a hepatocellular carcinoma patient cleared his HCV infection after receiving erlotinib.3

Baumert is a professor of medicine at the University of Strasbourg and head of the Strasbourg Virology Unit U748 at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale(INSERM).

Using a functional small interfering RNA kinase screen,

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