Deriving immune modulating drugs from viruses— AA new class of biologics

Jordan R. Yaron, Liqiang Zhang, Qiuyun Guo, Michelle Burgin, Lauren N. Schutz, Enkidia Awo, Lyn Wise, Kurt L. Krause, Cristhian J. Ildefonso, Jacek M. Kwiecien, Michael Juby, Masmudur M. Rahman, Hao Chen, Richard W. Moyer, Antonio Alcami, Grant McFadden, Alexandra R. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Viruses are widely used as a platform for the production of therapeutics. Vaccines containing live, dead and components of viruses, gene therapy vectors and oncolytic viruses are key examples of clinically-approved therapeutic uses for viruses. Despite this, the use of virus-derived proteins as natural sources for immune modulators remains in the early stages of development. Viruses have evolved complex, highly effective approaches for immune evasion. Originally developed for protection against host immune responses, viral immune-modulating proteins are extraordinarily potent, often functioning at picomolar concentrations. These complex viral intracellular parasites have “performed the R&D”, developing highly effective immune evasive strategies over millions of years. These proteins provide a new and natural source for immune-modulating therapeutics, similar in many ways to penicillin being developed from mold or streptokinase from bacteria. Virus-derived serine proteinase inhibitors (serpins), chemokine modulating proteins, complement control, inflammasome inhibition, growth factors (e.g., viral vascular endothelial growth factor) and cytokine mimics (e.g., viral interleukin 10) and/or inhibitors (e.g., tumor necrosis factor) have now been identified that target central immunological response pathways. We review here current development of virus-derived immune-modulating biologics with efficacy demonstrated in pre-clinical or clinical studies, focusing on pox and herpesviruses-derived immune-modulating therapeutics. Unknown Seed sown Strength grown Expanding, landing From infinitesimal To infinite Bright flight to Great height Alexandra Lucas, MD 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number972
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Biologic
  • Chemokine
  • Chemokine binding protein
  • Cytokine
  • Growth factor
  • Immune modulation
  • Interleukin
  • Protein
  • Serpin
  • Therapeutic
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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