Antiviral Drugs

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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Back in the mid-1980s, when scientists first learned that a virus caused AIDS, pharmacies were loaded with drugs able to treat bacterial infections. For viral diseases, though, medicine had little to offer beyond a cluster of vaccines. The story is dramatically different today. With the help of viral genomics, dozens of antiviral therapies, including several new vaccines, are available, and hundreds more are in development. Viral Genomics plays a most important role in research to create new miracle drugs. We look to find lifesaving therapies for HIV and AIDS which has suggested creative ways to fight not only HIV but other viruses, too. . Viruses are structurally simple, consisting of genes encased in a protein capsule. This design requires viruses to replicate inside cells.

Viral genomics, in which deciphers the sequence of "letters," or nucleic acids, in a virus's genetic "text." This sequence includes the letters in all the virus's genes, which form the blueprints for viral proteins; these proteins, in turn, serve as the working parts of the virus and thus control its behavior.

With a full or partial sequence in hand, scientists can quickly learn how a virus causes disease--and which stages of the process might be vulnerable to attack. In 2001 the full genome of any virus can be sequenced within days, making it possible to spot that virus's weaknesses speed.

Having located a virus's genes, scientists can study the functions of the virus and build a picture of the steps by which the virus thrives in the body. That picture, in turn, can highlight the parts within those proteins--that would be best to disable. Scientists favor targets whose disruption would impair viral activity most. They also like to focus on protein domains that bear little resemblance to those in humans, to avoid harming healthy cells and...