Essay On Azt

1855 words - 8 pages

The AIDS virus is one of the most deadly and most wide spread diseases in themodern era. The disease was first found in 1981 as doctors around the United Statesbegan to report groups of young, homosexual men developing a rare pneumoniacaused by an organism called Penumocystis carini. These patients then went on todevelop many other new and rare complications that had previously been seen only inpatients with severely damaged immune systems. The Center for Disease Control inthe United States named this new epidemic the acquired immunodeficiency syndromeand defined it by a specific set of symptoms. In 1983, researchers finally identified thevirus that caused AIDS. They named the virus the human immunodeficiency virus, orHIV. AIDS causes the immune system of the infected patient to become much lessefficient until it stops working altogether.The first drug that was approved by the American Food and Drugadministration for use in treating the AIDS virus is called AZT, which stands forazido-thymidine. AZT was released under the brand name of Retrovir and it's chemicalname is Zidovudine, or ZDV. The structural name of AZT is 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine. AZT works by inhibiting the process of copying DNA in cells. Morespecifically, AZT, inhibits the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is involved in theDNA replication process. When DNA is replicating in a cell, there is a specific enzymethat works along one side of the original DNA strand as the DNA is split into twostrands, copying each individual nucleotide. This enzyme is only able to work in onedirection along the nucleotide string, therefore a different enzyme, or rather a series ofdifferent enzymes is required to work in the opposite direction. Reverse transcriptaseis one of the enzymes that is required to work in the opposite direction. AZT works bybonding to the reverse transcriptase enzyme, thereby making it unable to bond withthe nucleotide string and making it unable to fulfill it's role. This whole process is usedby the HIV virus to replicate itself so that it can continue to infect more cells.AZT was originally developed over 20 years ago for the treatment of lukemia.The concept behind this was that the AZT was supposed to terminate the DNAsynthesis in the growing lukemia lymphocytes, thereby stopping the disease. AZT wasrejected at this point because it failed to lengthen the lives of test animals.The problem with the AZT drug is that it is not perfect. First of all, AZT willnot bond to each and every reverse transcriptase enzyme in the body, and therefore itcannot shut down the HIV production completely. The reason for this is because toput enough AZT in the patient to completely shut down the HIV production wouldprobably kill the patient. The second, and most serious problem with AZT is that italso goes into normal, healthy cells and will inhibit their reverse transcriptase enzymeand will therefore inhibit their ability to produce new, healthy cells. However, AZTdoes have an ability...

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