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Original article

Topical SMIP-7.7, a toll-like receptor 7 agonist, protects against genital herpes simplex virus type-2 disease in the guinea pig model of genital herpes

David I Bernstein, Rhonda D Cardin, Fernando J Bravo, Julie Earwood, Jennifer R Clark, Yongkai Li, Pranab Mishra, Chun Li, Bishnu P Nayak, Andrew T Miller, Tom Y-H Wu, Michael P Cooke, Nicholas M Valiante

Corresponding author name: David I Bernstein
Corresponding author e-mail:

Citation: Antiviral Chemistry & Chemotherapy 2014; 23:189-196
doi: 10.3851/IMP2499

Date accepted: 15 November 2012
Date published online: 12 December 2012


Background: Development of more effective therapies for genital herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) infections remains a priority. The toll-like receptors (TLR) are attractive targets for the immunomodulation of primary and recurrent genital herpes infection. The guinea pig model of genital HSV-2 disease was therefore used to evaluate the efficacy of a new TLR-7 agonist, SMIP-7.7.

Methods: The effects of SMIP-7.7 at concentrations between 0.90% and 0.09% were compared to the vehicle control or Aldara® (3M Health Care Limited, Northridge, CA, USA) as treatment for genital HSV-2 infections. Following intravaginal inoculation of Hartley guinea pigs with 106 pfu HSV-2 (MS strain), animals were treated intravaginally beginning at 36 h post-infection. Animals were evaluated for acute disease, acute virus replication, recurrent disease and shedding, as well as infection of the dorsal root ganglia.

Results: Treatment with SMIP-7.7 significantly decreased mean total lesion scores during primary infection (all doses, P<0.01 compared with vehicle control, and similar to Aldara®). Vaginal virus titres were reduced in treated animals compared with vehicle control (P<0.001 for each treatment versus vehicle control on day 4). Treatment with SMIP-7.7 also significantly decreased the number of recurrent lesion days, the number of days with recurrent virus shedding and the infection of the dorsal root ganglia compared to the vehicle control, and was similar to Aldara®. As opposed to Aldara®, SMIP-7.7 did not induce fever or weight loss during treatment.

Conclusions: SMIP-7.7 improves the outcome of primary and recurrent HSV-2 disease comparable to Aldara® but without some of the side effects associated with Aldara®.


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