Herpes Virus Dysregulation in Long COVID

by | Jul 29, 2022 | BHC News, Long COVID, Research News

Suzanne D Vernon, PhDThere are about 8 different herpes viruses that infect humans – herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6 (variants A and B), human herpesvirus 7, and Kaposi’s sarcoma virus or human herpesvirus 8. All herpesviruses can become latent in our body which means they quietly hang out in various parts of our body without causing symptoms. Occasionally, herpesviruses reactivate which triggers virus replication causing symptoms. Some of the things that can cause herpesviruses to reactivate include fever, another infection, injury, and stress. Reactivation of these 8 human herpesviruses has been documented in critically ill COVID-19 patients. Reactivation of herpesviruses is also suspected in long COVID pathogenesis. This reactivation triggers immune dysregulation that, in addition to increased virus replication, could cause the symptoms long COVID patients are experiencing.

Virios Therapeutics provided a grant to Bateman Horne Center to conduct a pilot clinical trial that tests a combination of valacyclovir plus celecoxib to treat Long COVID symptoms. The combination of these drugs has two specific mechanisms of action that could inhibit herpesvirus reactivation and keep these viruses in a latent state or tamp down their replication. The valacyclovir works by inhibiting the viral DNA polymerase, reducing viral DNA synthesis and replication. Celecoxib, which is a COX-2 inhibitor, has anti-herpesvirus activity by downregulating COX-2 – which herpesviruses turn on and up-regulate to help with viral replication. We hypothesize that the combined usage of valacyclovir plus celecoxib will effectively suppress tissue resident viruses and effectively manage the symptoms of long COVID.

This will be an open-label pilot trial. We will enroll up to 60 long COVID patients – half will be assigned to receive the study drugs and half will be assigned to the standard of care group. The treatment arm will have five (5) visits to the Bateman Horne Center over a 14-17 week period. The standard of care arm will have three (3) in-person visits to Bateman Horne Center over a 14-week period. Eligible participants will be compensated $50.00 for each in-person visit. Because several in-person visits to BHC are required, we will recruit primarily from Utah.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or call (385) 262-9081.

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