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Antivir Chem Chemother. 2005;16(3):155-68.

Achievements and challenges in antiviral drug discovery.

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Medivir UK, Little Chesterford, Essex, UK.


The last 40 years have seen the development of several antiviral drugs with therapeutic value in treating life-threatening or debilitating diseases such as those caused by HIV, hepatitis B virus, herpesviruses (such as herpes simplex virus and varicella zoster virus) and influenza virus. These relatively recent advances have been due to technical breakthroughs in the cultivation of viruses in the laboratory, identification of viral enzymes and, more recently, their molecular biology. We describe here the antecedence of several of the existing antivirals and their strengths and weaknesses. We indicate where the major challenges lie for future improvements of current therapies and possible new indications, such as hepatitis C virus and papillomavirus. We also describe how current antiviral therapies are restricted to a rather limited number of viral diseases of sufficient interest to the pharmaceutical industry. Finally we describe the potential threat of emerging viruses and bio-weapons and the challenges that they present to therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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