Brave New Drug: Compound stops cowpox and smallpox viruses

9:36am, March 20, 2002

By cloaking an antiviral drug in a fat molecule, scientists have developed a new compound that people might someday swallow to ward off smallpox.

A vaccine against smallpox exists, but governments' supplies have dwindled since the disease was declared eradicated in 1980. Smallpox virus is preserved in laboratories in the United States and Russia, however, and some smallpox stocks may have fallen into terrorist hands when the Soviet Union fell.

In response to smallpox's potential as a bioterror threat, the U.S. government in the 1990s started sponsoring research into drugs that inhibit poxviruses.

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