Alternative approaches to antiviral treatments: focusing on glycosylation as a target for antiviral therapy

Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 2010 Jul 7;56(3):103-9. doi: 10.1042/BA20100010.


Development of effective and safe medication for the treatment of viral infections remains a major challenge for the pharmaceutical industry in the 21st Century. There are numerous problems with the existing antiviral treatments both in terms of their safety and, in some cases, their cost, and they cannot be used generally but only in special circumstances. However, the threat of viral diseases ranging from AIDS and hepatitis C to influenza is increasing each year and there is considerable interest in safer and more generally applicable alternative treatments. It has been recognized for some time that some viruses have glycosylation features that are essential to their infectivity, but a means of providing a therapeutic route that is based on this has not been easy to exploit. In recent years, a number of possible approaches have been investigated and some of these are now considered to be realistic forms of therapy. Generally, approaches based on inhibition of the host machinery to glycosylate viral proteins or the ability of compounds to mimic the surface glycosylation of the virus seem to offer the best potential approaches. In this mini-review article, we look at recent advances in both of these areas and their potential to provide a new arsenal of antiviral therapeutics for AIDS, hepatitis C and influenza. Some of these are now entering clinical trials and others are at an advanced stage of preclinical development, but all of them represent good candidates for a therapy that could be more resilient to the problems of viral mutation and diversity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Glycosylation
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Antiviral Agents