The relationship between the metabolism of ribavirin and its proposed mechanism of action

Nucleic Acid Research Institute ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Irvine, California 92714
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 12/2006; 284(1):211 - 229. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1977.tb21953.x


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    ABSTRACT: A considerable amount of information has accumulated during the past 10 years in the search for antiviral agents. Ribavirin and inosiplex are 2 interesting developments to come out of this search. Ribavirin, a synthetic nucleoside, has an unusually wide spectrum of antiviral activity, especially when tested in vitro. A large number of RNA and DNA viruses are sensitive, especially herpes viruses, poxvirus, influenza, parainfluenza, reovirus, togavirus, and RNA tumour viruses. The in vivo antiviral spectrum of activity is much narrower, with activity against herpes virus, influenza, parainfluenza, measles and adenoviruses. However, controlled clinical trials have not been uniformly successful in treating influenza, hepatitis, herpes simplex and herpes zoster. Inosiplex has been shown to have antiviral activity in vivo against influenza, herpes simplex, rhinovirus and vaccinia virus infections. However, antiviral activity has not been consistently demonstrated, and this observation led to further studies which revealed its immunomodulating effects. The accumulated evidence has indicated that inosiplex is more a prohost agent rather than an antiviral drug. Immune functions which are depressed during viral infection can be restored to normal by inosiplex therapy. At present, neither ribavirin nor inosiplex alone has been shown to be uniformly successful in the treatment of human viral diseases. Nevertheless, their potential place in chemotherapy should not be neglected, although further data are needed to determine what this place will be. Whether combining them with other antiviral agents such as interferon, acyclovir, Ara-A, and so on, would produce a potentiation of action and improved antiviral chemotherapy, will be an interesting area for further study.
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