Broad-spectrum antiviral drug

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Broad-spectrum antivirals (BSAs) are a class of compounds, which inhibit replication of a broad range of viruses (i.e. viruses belonging to two or more viral families). BSAs could be divided into experimental and investigational agents, and approved drugs. BSAs work by inhibiting viral proteins (such as polymerases and proteases) or by targeting host cell factors and processes exploited by different viruses during infection. [1] As of 2021, there are 150 known BSA candidates in varying stages of development, effective against 78 human viruses. [2] BSAs are potential candidates for treatment of emerging and re-emerging viruses, such as ebola, marburg, and SARS-CoV-2. [3] [4] Many BSAs show antiviral activity against other viruses than originally investigated (such as remdesivir and interferon alpha). Efforts in drug repurposing for SARS-CoV-2 is currently underway. A database of BSAs and viruses they inhibit could be found here (

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Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used for treating viral infections. Most antivirals target specific viruses, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen; instead they inhibit its development.

Ribavirin Antiviral medication

Ribavirin, also known as tribavirin, is an antiviral medication used to treat RSV infection, hepatitis C and some viral hemorrhagic fevers. For hepatitis C, it is used in combination with other medications such as simeprevir, sofosbuvir, peginterferon alfa-2b or peginterferon alfa-2a. Among the viral hemorrhagic fevers it is used for Lassa fever, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, and Hantavirus infection but should not be used for Ebola or Marburg infections. Ribavirin is taken by mouth or inhaled.

An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth. Antimicrobial medicines can be grouped according to the microorganisms they act primarily against. For example, antibiotics are used against bacteria, and antifungals are used against fungi. They can also be classified according to their function. Agents that kill microbes are microbicides, while those that merely inhibit their growth are called bacteriostatic agents. The use of antimicrobial medicines to treat infection is known as antimicrobial chemotherapy, while the use of antimicrobial medicines to prevent infection is known as antimicrobial prophylaxis.


Umifenovir, sold under the brand name Arbidol, is an antiviral medication for the treatment of influenza infection used in Russia and China. The drug is manufactured by Pharmstandard. Russian and China studies have shown it to be effective and it is approved in both countries while, it is not approved by the US FDA for the treatment or prevention of influenza because it was never applied for FDA approval since the drug company is in Russia not the US.


Nitazoxanide, sold under the brand name Alinia among others, is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic and broad-spectrum antiviral medication that is used in medicine for the treatment of various helminthic, protozoal, and viral infections. It is indicated for the treatment of infection by Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia in immunocompetent individuals and has been repurposed for the treatment of influenza. Nitazoxanide has also been shown to have in vitro antiparasitic activity and clinical treatment efficacy for infections caused by other protozoa and helminths; evidence as of 2014 suggested that it possesses efficacy in treating a number of viral infections as well.


Griffithsin is a protein isolated from the red algae Griffithsia. It has a 121-amino acid sequence which exhibits a Jacalin-like lectin fold. Several structures of this protein have been solved by X-ray crystallography and deposited in the PDB. It has been shown in vitro to be a highly potent HIV entry inhibitor. It is currently being investigated as a potential microbicide for use in the prevention of the transmission of HIV.


FGI-104 is the name of an experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drug, with activity against a range of viruses including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, Ebola virus, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.

3C-like protease

The 3C-like protease (3CLpro) or Mpro, formally known as C30 Endopeptidase, is the main protease found in coronaviruses. It cleaves the coronavirus polyprotein at eleven conserved sites. It is a cysteine protease and a member of the PA clan of proteases. It has a cysteine-histidine catalytic dyad at its active site and cleaves a Gln–(Ser/Ala/Gly) peptide bond.

Favipiravir Experimental antiviral drug with potential activity against RNA viruses

Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan among others, is an antiviral medication used to treat influenza in Japan. It is also being studied to treat a number of other viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2. Like the experimental antiviral drugs T-1105 and T-1106, it is a pyrazinecarboxamide derivative.


FGI-106 is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug developed as a potential treatment for enveloped RNA viruses, in particular viral hemorrhagic fevers from the bunyavirus, flavivirus and filovirus families. It acts as an inhibitor which blocks viral entry into host cells. In animal tests FGI-106 shows both prophylactic and curative action against a range of deadly viruses for which few existing treatments are available, including the bunyaviruses hantavirus, Rift Valley fever virus and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, the flavivirus dengue virus, and the filoviruses Ebola virus and Marburg virus.


Triazavirin is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug developed in Russia through a joint effort of Ural Federal University, Russian Academy of Sciences, Ural Center for Biopharma Technologies and Medsintez Pharmaceutical. It has a novel triazolotriazine core, which represents a new structural class of non-nucleoside antiviral drugs.


MK-608 is an antiviral drug, an adenosine analog. It was originally developed by Merck & Co. as a treatment for hepatitis C, but despite promising results in animal studies, it was ultimately unsuccessful in clinical trials. Subsequently it has been widely used in antiviral research and has shown activity against a range of viruses, including Dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, poliovirus, and most recently Zika virus, in both in vitro and animal models. Since it has already failed in human clinical trials previously, it is unlikely MK-608 itself will be developed as an antiviral medication, but the continuing lack of treatment options for these emerging viral diseases means that much research continues using MK-608 and related antiviral drugs.


NITD008 is an antiviral drug classified as an adenosine analog. It was developed as a potential treatment for flavivirus infections and shows broad spectrum antiviral activity against many related viruses such as dengue virus, West Nile virus, yellow fever virus, Powassan virus, hepatitis C virus, Kyasanur Forest disease virus, Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus, and Zika virus. However, NITD008 proved too toxic in pre-clinical animal testing to be suitable for human trials, but it continues to be used in research to find improved treatments for emerging viral diseases.

EICAR (antiviral)

EICAR is a drug which acts as an inhibitor of the enzyme IMP dehydrogenase. It is a nucleoside derivative which has both anti-cancer and antiviral effects, and was originally developed for the treatment of leukemia, but was unsuccessful in human clinical trials. It has broad spectrum antiviral effects with activity against pox viruses, Semliki forest virus, Junin virus, reovirus, influenza, measles virus and respiratory syncytial virus among others, although it is not active against coronaviridae such as SARS-CoV-1. This useful spectrum of activity means that EICAR and related derivatives continue to be investigated for the treatment of viral diseases.

COVID-19 drug repurposing research Drug repurposing research related to COVID-19

Drug repositioning is the re-purposing of an approved drug for the treatment of a different disease or medical condition than that for which it was originally developed. This is one line of scientific research which is being pursued to develop safe and effective COVID-19 treatments. Other research directions include the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and convalescent plasma transfusion.

COVID-19 drug development Preventative and therapeutic medications for COVID-19 infection

COVID-19 drug development is the research process to develop preventative therapeutic prescription drugs that would alleviate the severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). From early 2020 through 2021, several hundred drug companies, biotechnology firms, university research groups, and health organizations were developing therapeutic candidates for COVID-19 disease in various stages of preclinical or clinical research, with 419 potential COVID-19 drugs in clinical trials, as of April 2021.


3CLpro-1 is an antiviral drug related to rupintrivir which acts as a 3CL protease inhibitor and was originally developed for the treatment of human enterovirus 71. It is one of the most potent of a large series of compounds developed as inhibitors of the viral enzyme 3CL protease, with an in vitroIC50 of 200 nM. It also shows activity against coronavirus diseases such as SARS and MERS, and is under investigation as a potential treatment agent for the viral disease COVID-19.

GC376 Broad-spectrum antiviral medication

GC376 is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication under development by the biopharmaceutical company Anivive Lifesciences for therapeutic uses in humans and animals. Anivive licensed the exclusive worldwide patent rights to GC376 from Kansas State University. As of 2020, GC376 is being investigated as treatment for COVID-19. GC376 shows activity against many human and animal viruses including coronavirus and norovirus; the most extensive research has been multiple in vivo studies in cats treating a coronavirus which causes deadly feline infectious peritonitis. Other research supports use in porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.


IDX-184 is an antiviral drug which was developed as a treatment for hepatitis C, acting as a NS5B RNA polymerase inhibitor. While it showed reasonable effectiveness in early clinical trials it did not progress past Phase IIb. However research using this drug has continued as it shows potentially useful activity against other emerging viral diseases such as Zika virus, and coronaviruses including MERS, and SARS-CoV-2.


GS-441524 is a nucleoside analogue antiviral drug which was developed by Gilead Sciences. It is the main plasma metabolite of the antiviral prodrug remdesivir, and has a half-life of around 24 hours in human patients. Remdesivir and GS-441524 were both tested against feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cell culture and found to be equivalent. Remdesivir was never tested in cats but GS-441524 has been found to be effective treatment for FIP, a lethal coronavirus disease which affects domestic cats and is widely used despite no official FDA approval due to Gilead's refusal to license this drug for veterinary use.


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