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Fomivirsen sodium is a 21-base phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide complementary to the messenger RNA of the major immediate-early region proteins of human cytomegalovirus, and is a potent and selective antiviral agent for cytomegalovirus retinitis. Following intravitreal administration, fomivirsen is slowly cleared from vitreous with a half-life of approximately 55 hours in humans. Preclinical studies show that fomivirsen distributes to retina and is slowly metabolised by exonuclease digestion. Clearance from retina was shown to be similarly slow following loading from the vitreous. The estimated half-life for clearance of fomivirsen from retina was 78 hours in monkeys following a 115μg dose. Because of the low doses coupled with slow disposition from the eye, measurable concentrations of drug are not detected in the systemic circulation following intravitreal administration.
Systemically administered phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides are highly bound to albumin and α2-macroglobulin in blood plasma. Because fomivirsen does not compete for oxidative metabolic processes involved in clearance of many xenobiotics, the most likely mechanism for drug interactions may be altered protein binding of a coadministered drug. The extremely low systemic exposure to this oligodeoxynucleotide following intravitreal administration largely negates its potential ability to interact with systemically administered drugs. Even if fomivirsen were able to access the blood, protein binding assays indicate that drugs that are site I and site II binders of albumin (warfarin, ibuprofen, salicylic acid) are not displaced in the presence of phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides of various sequences at concentrations orders of magnitude higher than that seen for fomivirsen.
Administration of fomivirsen with numerous systemically administered antiretrovirals (for example zidovudine and zalcitabine) as well as systemically administered anticytomegalovirus agents such as foscarnet and ganciclovir has been reported to be well tolerated. The only reported warning is a recommendation against administration within 2 to 4 weeks of cidofovir treatment due to an increased risk of ocular inflammation.
KeywordsGanciclovir Foscarnet Phosphorothioate Zalcitabine Normal Human Dermal Fibroblast
The authors would like to thank Camille Jordan for administrative assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.
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