antiviral drug

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antiviral drug

antiviral drug, any of several drugs used to treat viral infections. The drugs act by interfering with a virus's ability to enter a host cell and replicate itself with the host cell's DNA. Some drugs block the virus's attachment or entry into the cell; others inhibit replication or prevent the virus from shedding the protein coat that surrounds the viral DNA. Antiviral drug development has been concurrent with advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering that allow study and definition of the genetic codes of viral DNA. Study at this level was not possible until electron microscopes became available and it is only since the 1980s that antiviral drugs have been on the market.

Antivirals are now available for a wide variety of viral diseases. Ribavirin, available since the mid-1980s, is used to treat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a cause of severe childhood respiratory infections. It is thought to inhibit messenger RNA. Ribavirin has few side effects, but is prohibitively expensive for all but the most serious cases. Amantadine and rimantadine, which are effective against strains of influenza A, act by interfering with viral uncoating.

Herpes simplex virus can now be treated by a highly selective drug, acyclovir (Zovirax), that interferes with an enzyme critical to the growth of the DNA chain. Although not a cure, the drug lessens the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Acyclovir is also used to lessen the pain and speed the healing of herpes zoster (shingles).

The search for cures and palliatives for AIDS has yielded drugs such as zidovudine (AZT), which inhibits the transcription of RNA to DNA in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Ganciclovir and cidofovir are used in the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that affects the eyes of immunosuppressed patients. Fomivirsen, which is an antisense drug, is also used to treat CMV.

See also nucleic acid, virus, retrovirus.

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References in periodicals archive ?
Markets for antivirals are considered according to viruses and diseases caused by them and also according to management approaches: antiviral drugs, vaccines, MAbs and innovative approaches that include immunological and use of other technologies such as gene therapy, antisense, RNAi and nanobiotechnology.
Furthermore, because these patients were all HBeAg-positive, we could not explain the data by a differential proportion of HBeAg-positive patients being treated in the early and later periods of the antiviral drug era.
Focus of discussion: We aim to screen extracts of medicinal plants used in traditional medicine with similar activity to leptomycin B but with reduced toxicity in order to identify suitable antiviral drugs for RSV disease.
We would like to have an ideal antiviral drug which he named as "Perfectovir" and let us wait for further developments in this field, he remarked.
Because of the reports, the antiviral drugs' labels now recommend against using amiodarone with those hepatitis C drugs.
Flu viruses are a major cause of death and sickness around the world, and antiviral drugs currently do not protect the most seriously ill patients.
RPI-MN is the lead antiviral drug candidate of Nutra Pharma's holding, ReceptoPharm.
Pharmasset is an emerging pharmaceutical company committed to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel antiviral drugs. The company has entered into a collaborative licensing agreement with Incyte and Hoffman La Roche for development of drugs used in the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C respectively.
Meanwhile, as ministers decide to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral drugs in a bid to prevent an outbreak which, they fear, could result in 50,000 fatalities in the UK, a Liverpool company is at the forefront of research into a possible vaccine for the deadly disease.
About one million people in the United States and many more millions throughout the world have chronic hepatitis B virus infection, and it is estimated that about 50 percent are candidates for antiviral drug treatment.