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Generation of neutralizing aptamers against herpes simplex virus type 2: potential components of multivalent microbicides

The prophylactic use of topical antiviral agents has recently been validated by the reduction in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 infection incidence seen using tonofovir-containing microbicides. In order to develop a wide-spectrum microbicide to prevent infection with a wide range of sexually transmitted viruses, we have previously reported the development of HIV-neutralizing aptamers and here report the isolation and characterization of aptamers that neutralize herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). These aptamers bind the envelope glycoprotein (gD), are potent (IC of 20–50 nM) and are able to block infection pathways dependent on both major entry receptors, Nectin1 and HVEM. Structural analysis and mutagenesis of these aptamers reveal a core specificity element that could provide the basis for pharmaceutical development. As HSV-2 is a major risk factor for the acquisition of HIV-1, a microbicide capable of preventing HSV-2 infection would not only reduce the morbidity associated with HSV-2, but also that derived from HIV-1.

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