Treat herpes with medication for heartburn

Treat herpes with medication for heartburn

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Herpes: New combination of active ingredients for better treatment

Omeprazole is a medicine used to treat various diseases and conditions, such as heartburn and stomach ulcers. A research team has now found that the drug could also help treat herpes.

According to experts, around 90 percent of adults in Germany are infected with herpes simplex viruses (HSV). This virus can cause the known blisters in the mouth (herpes in the mouth). Herpes can also occur in other places, such as in the genital area. The symptoms can be alleviated with home remedies, among other things. A stomach medicine could also help with the treatment.

Improve treatment of herpes simplex diseases

Researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Kent, Great Britain, have found that a new combination of active ingredients could possibly improve the treatment of herpes simplex diseases such as lip sores, genital herpes and corneal inflammation (keratitis).

As the Frankfurt University wrote in a statement, the researchers tested various active substances in cell cultures and discovered that omeprazole and other proton pump inhibitors could improve the effectiveness of the virostatic acyclovir.

Acyclovir is said to be the most commonly used to treat diseases associated with herpes simplex infections.

Viruses can be life-threatening for some people

Lip sores and genital herpes can cause significant discomfort. Corneal inflammation caused by herpes simplex is one of the most common causes of blindness in industrialized countries, the report said.

Herpes simplex viruses can be life-threatening in people with a suppressed immune system, such as organ recipients. Therefore, there is an enormous need for improved therapies.

An international research team led by Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Institute of Medical Virology, University Hospital Frankfurt, and Professor Martin Michaelis, School of Biosciences, University of Kent, tested various proton pump inhibitors in combination with two antivirals, acyclovir and ribavirin.

Their results were published in the journal "Frontiers in Microbiology".

Omeprazole had the greatest effect

Proton pump inhibitors are the most commonly used drugs against
Heartburn as they greatly reduce gastric acid production. In addition, these agents can also increase the effectiveness of certain cancer drugs, the so-called nucleoside analogues.

The antivirals acyclovir and ribavirin are also nucleoside analogues, and the researchers therefore investigated whether proton pump inhibitors could also increase the effectiveness of the two antivirals.

While proton pump inhibitors together with ribavirin showed only a minor influence on the multiplication of the herpes simplex virus, in combination with acyclovir they significantly reduced the release of viruses. According to the researchers, omeprazole had the greatest effect among the proton pump inhibitors examined.

"What makes our research so interesting is that proton pump inhibitors are well-characterized and well-tolerated active ingredients," said Professor Jindrich Cinatl, last author of the study.

“Therefore, we can now test them directly together with antivirals in patients suffering from severe diseases caused by the herpes simplex virus. If we see the same effect in humans as in cell culture, we will be able to help many patients for whom we currently have only limited treatment options. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Goethe University Frankfurt: New combination of active ingredients for better herpes treatment, (accessed: March 15, 2020), Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Malte Kleinschmidt, Denisa Bojkova, Holger Rabenau, Jindrich Cinatl, Martin Michaelis, Mark Wass: Omeprazole Increases the Efficacy of Acyclovir Against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and 2; in: Frontiers in Microbiology, (published: 03.12.2019), Frontiers in Microbiology

Video: Medical Treatment, Medications for Heartburn and Acid Reflux-Mayo Clinic (November 2022).