A group from Children’s Heart Centre in Lund, Sweden, has used Artesunate as an effective antiviral therapy to aid in the treatment of a child with HHV-6B myocarditis. Artesunate is a drug used globally for the treatment of malaria that has recently shown efficacy against HHV-6 in vitro (Milbradt 2009) and is being explored in several centers for the compassionate-use treatment of drug-resistant CMV (Shapira 2008, Sellar 2012)
A 14-month-old child who developed signs and symptoms indicative of primary HHV-6B infection and suffered from severe heart failure shortly thereafter was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with HHV-6B myocarditis. Although high levels of HHV-6 DNA were detected in the myocardium as well as whole blood and PBMCs, initial anti-HHV-6 treatment with ganciclovir proved ineffective. Two months after admission, a treatment course with artesunate was initiated (administered intraveneously for 10 days, followed by 10 days of oral therapy). Alleviation of symptoms was subsequently observed, and in conjunction with unloading of the left ventricle treatment a successful clinical outcome was eventually achieved without notable side effects. Furthermore, HHV-6B DNA load was found to be significantly decreased at 4 months follow-up, and occurred in the absence of inflammation indicating viral latency. This is the first case to describe the use of Artesunate for the clinical treatment of HHV-6B.