Medications

Developing antiviral drugs is not easy—here's why

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, recently announced the creation of an antivirus taskforce to "supercharge" the development of new antiviral drugs. At a Downing Street press conference, Johnson said: "The majority of ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

COVID treatment has improved, but many wish for an easy pill

If Priscila Medina had gotten COVID-19 a year ago, she would have had no treatments proven safe and effective to try. But when the 30-year-old nurse arrived at a Long Island hospital last month, so short of breath she could ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

COVID-19: What happens if some countries don't vaccinate?

Some countries, such as Tanzania and Madagascar, have issued statements saying they do not have plans to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19. Moina Spooner, an editor with The Conversation Africa, asked pathology ...

HIV & AIDS

HIV research yields potential drug target

Humans possess a formidable multi-layered defense system that protects us against viral infections. Better understanding of these defenses and the tricks that viruses use to evade them could open novel avenues for treating ...

Obstetrics & gynaecology

Study: New vaginal film, MB66, is safe

While a number of topical products designed to reduce the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections have been tested with largely disappointing results, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), Alpert ...

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Antiviral drug

Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections. Like antibiotics for bacteria, specific antivirals are used for specific viruses. Unlike antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen but inhibit their development.

Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic, antifungal and antiparasitic drugs. They are relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections. They should be distinguished from viricides, which are not medication but destroy virus particles outside the body.

Most of the antivirals now available are designed to help deal with HIV, herpes viruses (best known for causing cold sores and genital herpes, but actually causing a wide range of diseases), the hepatitis B and C viruses, which can cause liver cancer, and influenza A and B viruses. Researchers are working to extend the range of antivirals to other families of pathogens.

Designing safe and effective antiviral drugs is difficult, because viruses use the host's cells to replicate. This makes it difficult to find targets for the drug that would interfere with the virus without harming the host organism's cells.

The emergence of antivirals is the product of a greatly expanded knowledge of the genetic and molecular function of organisms, allowing biomedical researchers to understand the structure and function of viruses, major advances in the techniques for finding new drugs, and the intense pressure placed on the medical profession to deal with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of the deadly acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic.

Almost all anti-microbials, including anti-virals, are subject to drug resistance as the pathogens mutate over time, becoming less susceptible to the treatment. For instance, a recent study published in Nature Biotechnology emphasized the urgent need for augmentation of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) stockpiles with additional antiviral drugs including zanamivir (Relenza) based on an evaluation of the performance of these drugs in the scenario that the 2009 H1N1 'Swine Flu' neuraminidase (NA) were to acquire the tamiflu-resistance (His274Tyr) mutation which is currently wide-spread in seasonal H1N1 strains.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA