Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => Topic started by: syhprum on 25/12/2016 08:02:52

Title: How species specific are anti viral drugs
Post by: syhprum on 25/12/2016 08:02:52
I am constantly regaled by my TV that I should buy a mix of cheap generics that I am told that "there is nothing stronger for the symptoms of colds and flu than *********".
I could not but wonder whether expensive antivirals such as are prescribed for HIV would be any help.
Title: Re: How species specific are anti viral drugs
Post by: evan_au on 25/12/2016 10:45:22
There is currently no proven effective treatment to cure the common cold once you are infected. Vaccines are of very limited use since there are so many different viruses which we lump in together as "the common cold", and they mutate quickly.

There is some ongoing research into medications that can block some strains of cold virus:

Influenza (flu) has more severe symptoms, and is potentially lethal, so it is worthwhile for people who have high likelihood of exposure (nurses, teachers, etc) and those who are more susceptible (eg the elderly) to have a flu vaccination. This is despite the fact that there are a number of strains in circulation, and the they mutate fast enough to bypass the protection in just a year or so.

So the medications to which you refer only claim to treat "the symptoms of colds and flu".
In other words, they offer pain relief  and perhaps control coughs and runny noses. They don't cure the virus.

Those HIV drugs ( include:
- Entry Inhibitors: HIV docks with different receptors than cold viruses
- Retrovirals, which prevent the HIV virus from copying itself into your DNA. Flu is caused by an RNA virus which does not require transcription into DNA
- Protease Inhibitors: These seem to be specific to the proteins that allow HIV virus to bud out of infected cells.

So I think HIV medications would be ineffective against cold viruses.
If you are worried, I suggest that you get a flu vaccination every year, and wash your hands regularly.