Discovery and development of safe-in-man broad-spectrum antiviral agents

Int J Infect Dis. 2020 Apr;93:268-276. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2020.02.018. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Viral diseases are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. Virus-specific vaccines and antiviral drugs are the most powerful tools to combat viral diseases. However, broad-spectrum antiviral agents (BSAAs, i.e. compounds targeting viruses belonging to two or more viral families) could provide additional protection of the general population from emerging and re-emerging viral diseases, reinforcing the arsenal of available antiviral options. Here, we review discovery and development of BSAAs and summarize the information on 120 safe-in-man agents in a freely accessible database ( Future and ongoing pre-clinical and clinical studies will increase the number of BSAAs, expand the spectrum of their indications, and identify drug combinations for treatment of emerging and re-emerging viral infections as well as co-infections.

Keywords: Antiviral drug; BSAAs; Broad-spectrum antiviral agents; Drug discovery and development; Virus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Development*
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Humans
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy


  • Antiviral Agents