AN epidemic of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in Asia during 2003 and the influenza virus A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009 were a clear indication that viruses and viral diseases were back on the global stage, and they certainly drew the attention of scientists and the general public alike.
Unfortunately, viruses are still in the news today. More recent examples are the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and Zika epidemic in South America.
Have we got the answer to these viruses and the threat they pose to our health?
Well, if you consider that the indications for three of the next seven blockbuster drugs for 2016 are to treat diseases caused by viruses, and take into account the fact that bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing global problem, it is quite clear why there is much more talk and concern about viruses and bacteria.
Today there is an increasing focus and importance being placed on biological drugs for treating many chronic diseases (including viral diseases). The active element of these drugs is a biological substance extracted from a bio source. Bio drugs include: recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies, immunological drugs (vaccines) and drugs for gene therapy.
The potential side effects of these drugs include cardiotoxicity (cardiac insufficiency, hypotension and rarely arrhythmias, hypertension), hypersensitivity reactions, infections, initiation of the autoimmune process and flu-like symptoms.
However, these are relatively effective drugs and yet it is anticipated that the global turnover of all biological drugs in 2016 will reach $158 billion. The good news is that the growing role of immunology in modern pharmacology and the biotechnology revolution give us reasonable hope that the biological drugs will soon be even more helpful in the treatment of serious diseases such as: cancer, diabetes mellitus, hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases.
Milan Tomic is a pharmacist, and head of department for the distribution of medical devices at a hospital in Belgrade, Serbia
Follow Milan @MilanTomic10