Azt Essay

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 ...view middle of the document...

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 to specifically target HIV infected cells to a certain degree so thatit does not kill each and every cell it gets into. However, it does kill a high proportionof the cells that it gets into, thereby giving it a high toxicity level.The formula for AZT is C H N O . The molar mass of AZT is 267.24 gramsper mole. AZT's melting point is between 106 C and 112 C. AZT is soluble in water,which is important so that it may dissolve into the human blood and be distributed tothe cells. AZT is usually taken in a pill format, but it is absorbed by the skin, which canmake it dangerous for people handling the drug.There is quite a bit of controversy about the effectiveness of AZT. Mostexperts agree that AZT delays the progression of HIV disease; the drug may alsoprolong the disease-free survival period. However, many doctors still disagree withusing AZT as a treatment for AIDS. Peter Duesberg, a professor of molecular biologyat the university of California, Berkley, says that 'In view of this, [the cytotoxicitylevel of AZT] there is no rational explanation of how AZT could be beneficial to AIDSpatients, even if HIV were proven to cause AIDS.' This comment stems from the factthat AZT has a very high cytotoxicity level, which means that while it kills the infectedcells, it will also kill perfectly healthy cells. According to Dr. Duesberg, AZT will killapproximately nine hundred and ninety nine healthy cells for each infected cell that itkills. Most of this opposition to AZT stems from the fact that the initial testing for thedrug had severe problems associated with it. These initial tests were performed withtwo groups of AIDS patients. The volunteering patients were secretly divided into twogroups using a double-blind system, where neither the patients nor the doctors areaware of who is in the placebo, or control group, and who is in the AZT group. Thesetests were performed by the FDA at twelve medical centers throughout the UnitedStates. The study actually became...

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