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Keywords:

  • herpesvirus;
  • antiviral;
  • peptide;
  • antimicrobial peptide

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a significant human pathogen causing mucocutaneous lesions primarily in the oral or genital mucosa. Although acyclovir (ACV) and related nucleoside analogs provide successful treatment, HSV remains highly prevalent worldwide and is a major cofactor for the spread of human immunodeficiency virus. Encephalitis, meningitis, and blinding keratitis are among the most severe diseases caused by HSV. ACV resistance poses an important problem for immunocompromised patients and highlights the need for new safe and effective agents; therefore, the development of novel strategies to eradicate HSV is a global public health priority. Despite the continued global epidemic of HSV and extensive research, there have been few major breakthroughs in the treatment or prevention of the virus since the introduction of ACV in the 1980s. A therapeutic strategy at the moment not fully addressed is the use of small peptide molecules. These can be either modeled on viral proteins or derived from antimicrobial peptides. Any peptide that interrupts protein–protein or viral protein–host cell membrane interactions is potentially a novel antiviral drug and may be a useful tool for elucidating the mechanisms of viral entry. This review summarizes current knowledge and strategies in the development of synthetic and natural peptides to inhibit HSV infectivity. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.