Viruses survive by gaining entry into cells and then commandeering molecular machinery there to reproduce them. When released, these viral copies infect other cells, spreading the infection. In the May Chemistry & Biology, scientists working with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) report that they've found a compound that interferes with the interaction of two viral proteins within an infected cell, thereby preventing the virus from replicating.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston set out to find a molecule that would obstruct the contact points between Pol and UL42—two proteins essential to HSV replication. After screening a chemical library of 16,320 compounds, the scientists identified nine candidates. Further lab tests revealed that a small molecule dubbed BP5 inhibited Pol and UL42 from binding cleanly, a disruption that stopped an HSV enzyme from synthesizing long chains of viral DNA—a necessary step in replication.