Numerous viruses cause latent infections in humans, and reactivation often results in pain and suffering. While vaccines for several of these viruses are available or currently being studied in clinical trials, and antiviral therapies have been successful in preventing or treating active infection, therapy to eradicate latent infection has lagged behind. A new study reported in this issue of the JCI shows that treatment of cells latently infected with Kaposi sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV) with glycyrrhizic acid, a component of licorice, reduces synthesis of a viral latency protein and induces apoptosis of infected cells. This finding suggests a novel way to interrupt latency.
Mechanisms of action of KSHV latency proteins expressed in PEL cells and points of attack by inhibitor compounds. cdk6, cyclin-dependent kinase 6; FADD, Fas-associated death domain–containing protein; siRNA, small interfering RNA.