Viral infections are notoriously difficult to treat, and the herpes simplex viruses (HSV) are particularly stubborn. The two types of herpes virus each infect different parts of the body. Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infects the mouth and usually causes cold sores on the lips, but it can also infect the eyes and lead to blindness. HSV-2 is a sexually-transmitted infection that results in periodic outbreaks of painful sores on the genitals.
Not-Fun Fact: Herpes viruses spend their spare time in nerves when they aren’t actively wreaking havoc on sensitive body parts. That’s why there’s a tingling feeling right before a cold sore pops up; the virus literally rides the trigeminal nerve all the way to the lip to infect the cells there. Isn’t nature beautiful?
Both types of HSV are treatable (but not curable) with antiviral drugs like acyclovir (Zovirax) and valacyclovir (Valtrex), which can be taken by mouth as a tablet or applied directly to the sores as topical preparation.
These drugs are usually taken at the first sign of an outbreak for about a week. They can shorten the duration of active infection and help the sores heal earlier so patients get back to their normal lives faster. But they aren’t without downsides — pretty serious ones, too.
Acyclovir can cause severe kidney damage in people taking it long-term or in high doses, especially if the person is dehydrated or already has impaired kidney function. Valacyclovir is quickly metabolized into acyclovir by liver enzymes, so it also comes with a similar risk.
New research has uncovered just such a discovery in the form of a drug called phenylbutyrate (PBA). PBA has actually been around for a long time, but until now its only use was to treat rare enzyme disorders that affect the body’s ability to get rid of waste products.
Data from a recent laboratory study at the University of Illinois at Chicago indicates that PBA has previously unknown anti-HSV activity with a much lower risk of serious side effects. The research tested both PBA and acyclovir (alone and in combination) in mouse models of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection.
Researchers found that PBA by itself had a remarkable ability to clear the herpes virus from infected cells, on par with acyclovir. More importantly, the combination of PBA with acyclovir wiped out infection faster and more completely than either drug alone. The addition of PBA means less acyclovir is needed to effectively suppress these viruses.
Lower Dose = Lower Risk
That’s a big deal, because the risk of kidney damage goes down as the dose of acyclovir decreases.
Acyclovir causes kidney damage when it builds up in the kidneys. If the kidneys aren’t getting rid of it fast enough in the urine, there’s a point where no more acyclovir can dissolve in your blood.
The excess ends up as a solid, called a precipitate, that blocks up the kidney’s filtration system. It’s like making rock candy: when you dissolve a ton of sugar into water, eventually the water can’t hold any more and the excess sugar precipitates out in the form of delicious candy crystals.
Acyclovir crystals are much less fun, and this discovery may mean a much lower risk of developing side effects related to them for many patients taking acyclovir long-term. Phenylbutyrate is already FDA-approved, so treatment that combines it with acyclovir in a single tablet is on the horizon.
While the PBA/acyclovir combination is still a ways off, eDrugstore.com carries acyclovir, valacyclovir, and Valtrex tablets as well as Denavir (penciclovir) cream. With free shipping, a free consultation with a telehealth doctor, and a free prescription (if appropriate), eDrugstore delivers your medication right to your house in discreet packaging, all without the need for a doctor/pharmacy trip. Check out our entire inventory of medications for sexual health, erectile dysfunction, hair restoration, and more.