The idea of antimetabolite therapy for virus diseases is not new, but only recently have the first clinically applicable antimetabolites for a "true" (other than the Chlamydozoaceae) virus disease been reported.1,2 The theoretical basis for the discovery of these agents arose from the observation that herpes simplex virus contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and after infection the amount of DNA in the cell increases sharply, the DNA being either a part of the virus or a product of its metabolism. It was theorized, therefore, that if DNA production could be impaired with antimetabolites, the reproduction of the virus might be inhibited. The agents that were found to do this effectively in herpetic dendritic keratitis were idoxuridine (5-iodo-2'-deoxyuridine [IDU], also called 5-iodouracil-2'-deoxyriboside [IUDR]), and 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BDU),2 These compounds differ from thymidine, a nucleoside and normal precursor of DNA, only in the substitution of a halogen atom for a methyl
JOHNSON AW, JERVEY ED. Adenine Arabinoside and 5-Mercaptouracil in Herpes Keratitis. Arch Ophthalmol. 1964;72(6):826–828. doi:10.1001/archopht.1964.00970020828018
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