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    An End to Herpes -- and HIV?

    continued...

    "We are very confident that we can give it safely to humans," NCI researcher Edward A. Sausville, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "The major side effects are related to diarrhea." That is one of the reasons drug companies are looking at other drugs to block cdk -- drugs that might not have this unpleasant side effect, he says.

    Sausville says that anti-cdk drugs will still have to undergo full safety tests before they can be used against virus infections. Although previous studies in cancer patients have shown that the drugs that block cdk appear to be safe in humans, the drugs in development to fight viruses are slightly different, he says. Therefore, the drugs still need to be closely scrutinized, but Sausville is encouraged that this new research will speed things along. Sausville is an associate director of the NCI's developmental therapeutics program.

    It will also be of great interest to show exactly which of the cdks must be blocked in order to stop these viruses from causing disease, University of Iowa biochemist David H. Price, PhD, tells WebMD. Price and co-workers are currently developing drugs similar to cdk blockers to fight HIV.

    Vital Information:

    • Scientists say a new class of drugs may be effective against viruses that cause diseases like herpes and AIDS.
    • Instead of trying to kill the virus, these drugs take a different approach: They prevent an invading virus from using its human host's cdk, a substance that drives cell division. Without cdk, the virus can't reproduce itself.
    • It's possible that cdk-blocking agents could be used to fight certain types of cancer. Scientists still have to access their safety in people as well as learn how knocking out cdk can prevent a viral infection.

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