Making Antivirals
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making antivirals

With COVID-19, we’re hearing a lot about antivirals. Just what are they?

Unlike antibiotics that kill bacteria, antivirals slow down the virus enough for the body’s own immune system to eliminate it and any infected cells. Heroic efforts to treat HIV patients brought some of the first antivirals. While in nineteen-ninety, there were just five antiviral drugs, today there are one hundred.

Antivirals attack several functions of a virus, which are non-living infectious particles that depend on a host cell to reproduce. The first HIV antiviral designed back in 1987 targeted a viral enzyme called reverse transcriptase or RT. RT copies the viral RNA genome into DNA that can integrate into a host cell’s genome. The drug, AZT, was able to block that ability. A number of HIV antivirals have now been developed.

Using this knowledge, scientists are now working around the clock on antivirals for the new corona virus, SARS CoV-two, from developing new drugs to testing existing drugs. One antiviral is hydroxycholoroquine which might curb viral entry into cells and Remdesivir may prevent the replication of the virus in cells.

But do not take these drugs without talking with your doctor since none are cleared to treat this virus. An elderly couple took chloroquine phosphate for aquarium fish as a preventative, but both were hospitalized, and the husband died.

For more information…

Strategies in the design of antiviral drugs
A decade ago, just five drugs were licensed for the treatment of viral infections. Since then, greater understanding of viral life cycles, prompted in particular by the need to combat human immunodeficiency virus, has resulted in the discovery and validation of several targets for therapeutic intervention...

Approved Antiviral Drugs over the Past 50 Years
Since the first antiviral drug, idoxuridine, was approved in 1963, 90 antiviral drugs categorized into 13 functional groups have been formally approved for the treatment of 9 human infectious diseases...

Antiretroviral Drug Discovery and Development
For more than three decades, NIAID has fostered and promoted development of antiretroviral therapies that have transformed HIV infection from an almost uniformly fatal infection into a manageable chronic condition...