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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections are widespread among the human population. Infection is persistent and mostly asymptomatic, except in immunocompromised individuals, particularly transplant patients, where significant morbidity and mortality can occur. Currently approved drugs for treating HCMV-related disease [including ganciclovir (GCV), valganciclovir (VGCV), cidofovir (CDV) and foscarnet (FOS)] all target the viral DNA polymerase and suffer from dose-limiting toxicity and resistance issues. The most recently approved drug, letermovir (LMV), was approved only for prophylaxis in adult HCMV-seropositive stem cell transplant recipients. Although LMV is highly potent, high-grade resistance mutations in the terminase gene were shown to readily emerge in vitro and in treated patients. Therefore, there is a need for new drugs that can be used for combinatorial therapeutic and/or prophylactic regimens to counteract the emergence of resistant mutants. Filociclovir (FCV), also known as cyclopropavir or MBX-400, is a methylenecyclopropane nucleoside analog, which has successfully completed Phase I safety studies, and is now entering Phase II clinical efficacy studies for the treatment of HCMV-related disease in transplant patients. FCV is 10-fold more active than GCV against HCMV in vitro, and has activity against all human herpesviruses except HSV-1 and HSV-2. Recently, FCV was also shown to be highly potent against human adenoviruses. This activity spectrum suggests that FCV could be used to treat/prevent infection with several viruses that pose significant risk to transplant patients. The active triphosphate form of FCV (FCV-TP) reaches higher peak levels than GCV-TP in HCMV-infected cells, and exhibits about 10-fold higher affinity to HCMV DNA polymerase UL54. Furthermore, FCV was shown to retain activity against a panel of GCV-resistant HCMV isolates, suggesting that it could be a useful alternative therapy for treating patients infected with some GCV-resistant HCMV strains. This review summarizes the early discovery work of FCV and highlights the recent advances in the continued development of this clinical candidate. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Islam T M Hussein, Jennifer Brooks, Terry L Bowlin. The discovery and development of filociclovir for the prevention and treatment of human cytomegalovirus-related disease. Antiviral research. 2020 Apr;176:104710

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PMID: 31940473

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