A standardized approach to the evaluation of antivirals against DNA viruses: Orthopox-, adeno-, and herpesviruses

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The search for new compounds with a broad spectrum of antiviral activity is important and requires the evaluation of many compounds against several distinct viruses. Researchers attempting to develop new antiviral therapies for DNA virus infections currently use a variety of cell lines, assay conditions and measurement methods to determine in vitro drug efficacy, making it difficult to compare results from within the same laboratory as well as between laboratories. In this paper we describe a common assay platform designed to facilitate the parallel evaluation of antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, vaccinia virus, cowpox virus, and adenovirus. The automated assays utilize monolayers of primary human foreskin fibroblast cells in 384-well plates as a common cell substrate and cytopathic effects and cytotoxicity are quantified with CellTiter-Glo. Data presented demonstrate that each of the assays is highly robust and yields data that are comparable to those from other traditional assays, such as plaque reduction assays. The assays proved to be both accurate and robust and afford an in depth assessment of antiviral activity against the diverse class of viruses with very small quantities of test compounds. In an accompanying paper, we present a standardized approach to evaluating antivirals against lymphotropic herpesviruses and polyomaviruses and together these studies revealed new activities for reference compounds. This approach has the potential to accelerate the development of broad spectrum therapies for the DNA viruses.HighlightsAntiviral assays in 384-well plates are presented for 7 viruses including HSV-1, and -2, VZV, HCMV, VACV, CPXV, and AdV.Efficacy is presented for 16 reference compounds including cidofovir, foscarnet, ganciclovir, acyclovir, and filociclovir.Spectrum of antiviral activity for some compounds against 12 representative viruses in a companion manuscript.New activities were detected for some compounds including the inhibition of adenovirus replication by filociclovir.

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