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November 17, 1978

Promising new antiherpes agent being tested in humans

JAMA. 1978;240(21):2231. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290210013001

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The search for a drug to combat the herpesviruses has involved a long battle. Last year the efficacy of vidarabine against herpes encephalitis was reported (JAMA MEDICAL NEWS 238:1121 [Sept 12] 1977).

This year, a new antiviral compound called 9-(2hydroxyethoxymethyl) guanine, also known as BW 248U or Zovirax, offers some hope.

Its antiviral activity against three herpesviruses— herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster virus, and the Epstein-Barr virus—in cell culture studies was described at a recent meeting of the American Society of Microbiology. According to Gertrude Elion, PhD, of the Burroughs Wellcome Laboratories, which developed the drug, it is now being tested in humans.

The company has filed three Investigational New Drug (IND) applications with the Food and Drug Administration. One is for use of BW 248U in a petrolatum-base ointment for ophthalmic herpes infections. Another is for studies of intravenous administration of the drug to determine dose ranges relating to