A review of the history, development and current status of antiviral chemotherapy is presented from its origins in the 1960s until the present day. Key issues in the development of novel antivirals are the emergence of resistant virus, safety and side effects. This review describes the current therapeutic status of the herpes viruses, HIV, hepatitis viruses and respiratory viruses, and outlines the current limitations in the field together with the future compounds likely to emerge to address these needs. The future of antiviral research is assessed in relation to the impact of potential 'emerging viruses' and biological weapons, and the potential of combination therapies involving antivirals and disease modification.
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