Present epidemic influenza is uncontrolled by immuno- or chemoprophylaxis. Mutants of varying antigenic composition arise with relatively high frequency in nature and are able to circumvent herd, or induced, immunity. Also, drug-resistant viruses can be selected in vitro and this resistance can be exchanged to other viruses by gene reassortment. Combined immuno- and chemoprophylaxis may provide a more effective approach to the ultimate control of the disease. Most antiviral compounds have been selected by random screening in the laboratory. Application of more specific enzyme assays such as the virion-associated RNA transcriptase assays may produce other compounds with a defined mode of action - semi-rational chemotherapy. RNA and polypeptide sequence studies are in progress elsewhere to define transcription and translation initiation sites or virus adsorption sites. Such knowledge could lead to a new generation of antiviral compounds. Specific delivery of virus inhibitory compounds is an interesting problem. Liposomes are lipid spheres, and these have been used for the delivery of antiviral compounds.
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