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A 37-year-old member asked:

Was azt (zidovudine) originally developed for cancer?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. William A Biermann
Medical Oncology 47 years experience
Yes: It was originally developed as a nucleoside analog. It was thought that it might lead to false replication of dna in tumor cells. It failed. That goes back to the 60's. Later drugs of this type were tested for retroviruses and the rest is history. There is a nice article from the ny times in 1986.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology 48 years experience
Although it: Has chemical structure of a nucleoside, and 6-mercaptopurine analog, an agent used to treat leukemia, azt (zidovudine) was inert against human leukemia and solid tumors. It has reverse-transriptase inhibition, rns virus need that enzyme to make dna, which in turn can insert into human dna. It is this use that led to testing against HIV virus.

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Last updated Jun 10, 2014

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