The potential threat of the smallpox virus as a bioterror weapon has long been recognized, and the need for developing suitable countermeasures has become especially acute following the events of September 2001. Traditional antiviral agents interfere with viral proteins or functions. In a new study, Yang et al. focus instead on host cellular pathways used by the virus. A drug that interferes with the cellular ErbB-1 signal transduction pathway, activated by smallpox growth factor, sheds new light on how the virus replicates in the cell. Drugs that target the ErbB-signaling pathways represent a promising new class of antiviral agents.
Anthony S. Fauci, Mark D. Challberg