Valganciclovir (brand name Valcyte) is an antiviral medication used to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in people who have received a transplant or are at risk of getting CMV, such as people with pulmonary fibrosis.

Cytomegalovirus is a common virus that infects over half of all adults by age 40, though most show no signs or symptoms of CMV. It can infect people of all ages. Once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays for life and can be reactivated. CMV infection can, in some cases, cause serious health problems for people with weakened immune systems.

Viral infections can worsen asthma and lung diseases that may influence disease outcomes either as flares or initiators of pulmonary fibrosis.

Valganciclovir is taken by mouth with food once or twice a day. Some of the common side effects of the drug are gastric disorders, loss of appetite, thirst, constipation, headache, back pain, swollen legs, and trouble walking.

It may also affect blood cells and bone marrow, causing serious and life-threatening problems. It is not known if valganciclovir causes birth defects in people. If any of the following symptoms are experienced, medical help should be sought: excessive tiredness, pale skin, headache, dizziness and confusion, fast heartbeat, sleeping disorders, weakness, shortness of breath, unusual bleeding or bruising, or flu-like symptoms.

Valganciclovir research in PF

A Phase 1 study (NCT02871401) is being prepared to study an anti-herpes virus therapy in people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Thirty participants will be treated with pirfenidone (brand name Esbriet) and placebo or pirfenidone and valganciclovir for 12 weeks. The study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of valganciclovir determined by type, frequency, and duration of adverse events and serious adverse events after 12 weeks of treatment.

All participants will have a bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage before and after treatment and will be followed up at routine clinic visits at six, nine, and 12 months for data collection. The study’s estimated completion date is August 2018.

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