Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
The development of two distinct classes of hepatitis C antiviral agents, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and host-targeting antivirals (HTAs), have distinctly impacted the hepatitis C virus (HCV) field by generating higher sustained virological response (SVR) rates within infected patients, via reductions in both adverse side effects and duration of treatment when compared to the old standard of care. Today DAAs are actively incorporated into the standard of care and continue to receive the most advanced clinical trial analysis. With a multitude of innovative and potent second-generation DAA compounds currently being tested in clinical trials, it is clear that the future of DAAs looks very bright. In comparison to the other class of compounds, HTAs have been slightly less impactful, despite the fact that primary treatment regimens for HCV began with the use of an HTA - interferon alpha (IFNα). The compound was advantageous in that it provided a broad-reaching antiviral response; however deleterious side effects and viral/patient resistance has since made the compound outdated. HTA research has since moved onward to target a number of cellular host factors that are required for HCV viral entry and replication such as scavenger receptor-BI (SR-BI), 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCoA reductase), cyclophilin A (CypA), fatty acid synthase (FASN) and miRNA-122. The rationale behind pursuing these HTAs is based upon the extremely low mutational rate that occurs within eukaryotic cells, thereby creating a high genetic barrier to drug resistance for anti-HCV compounds, as well as pan-genotypic coverage to all HCV genotypes and serotypes. As the end appears near for HCV, it becomes important to ask if the development of novel HTAs should also be analyzed in combination with other DAAs, in order to address potential hard-to-treat HCV patient populations. Since the treatment regimens for HCV began with the use of a global HTA, could one end the field as well?