Treating Epstein-Barr virus associated malignancies

Treating Epstein-Barr virus associated malignancies

The opportunity

  • EBV is associated with the pathogenesis of some cancers
  • BHRF1 confers chemoresistance
  • Target identification and assay development completed

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the first human virus with a proven association with the pathogenesis of cancer. These malignancies include Burkitt’s lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. It is a common viral infection and incidence of EBV-associated malignancies varies across different demographics. There is currently no vaccine against infection and no specific treatments.


Scientific diagram


The technology

EBV encodes BHRF1, a viral Bcl-2 homolog. Researchers at WEHI have found that BHRF1 can protect cells from chemotherapeutic drugs that induce cell death and also accelerate MYC- driven lymphoma development using pre-clinical models of disease. 

Opportunities for partnership 

We are seeking a co-development partner for our structure enabled BHRF1 inhibitor development program:

We have:

  • Expertise in BHRF1 biology and hit-to-lead optimisation
  • An identified target, x-ray crystal structures of BHRF1, validated biochemical competition assays and robust cellular assays for HTS 
  • BHRF1 dependent cell and in vivo models for compound evaluation

We are seeking investment to complete:

  • the HTS and fragment screen for BHRF1 inhibitors
  • in vitro and in vivo inhibitor validation and medicinal chemistry 

Scientific team

Dr Brad Sleebs, Laboratory Head, Chemical Biology division

Dr Gemma Kelly, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Blood Cells and Blood Cancer division


Dr Janet Yeo, Business Development Associate

Phone: +61 3 9345 2673