New Cytomegalovirus Antiviral Shows Efficacy in Phase 3 Clinical Trial


Genovefa Papanicolaou, MD, discusses a new antiviral in development to prevent cytomegalovirus.

Genovefa Papanicolaou, MD, Attending Physician, Infectious Diseases, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, discusses a new antiviral in development to prevent cytomegalovirus.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“With current management strategies, we are able to control [cytomegalovirus] CMV, and prevent CMV [from] going into various organs and causing disease. However, the current antivirals have certain limitations; they can cause marrow toxicity, particularly lower the white count, or the alternative medication that we have, foscarnet, may cause kidney damage.

There is a new antiviral in development, letermovir, that was shown to be efficacious in preventing CMV in a phase 3 trial. In that study, patients were randomized to get letermovir or placebo for 14 weeks, and then we looked at the rates of CMV reactivation at 24 weeks, and patients that got letermovir had significantly less CMV reactivation at 24 weeks. This is a very exciting development because this is the first antiviral shown to be effective for CMV prevention in a phase 3 clinical trial. Letermovir was particularly safe in the phase 3 trial; it didn’t cause any marrow toxicity; it didn’t cause any nephrotoxicity. So, it appears to be very safe to be given up to 14 weeks in this very sick patient population.”

DISCLOSURES: Genofeva Papanicolaou has received research funding from Merck and consultant and research funding from Astellas and Chimerix.

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