MICHAEL W. DAVIDSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MICHAEL W. DAVIDSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Antiviral drug crystals. Polarised light micrograph (LM) of the antiviral drug AZT (azidothymidine), generic name zidovudine. AZT is used in combination drug therapy to treat HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) patients. HIV uses an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, to translate its RNA (ribonucleic acid) into DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). This corrupts the genetic material of T-lymphocytes (cells which help to fight infection), which leads to the replication of the virus and the death of the lymphocytes. AZT is believed to block the action of reverse transcriptase.
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