It’s been about 45 years since the development of the first antiviral medication.  Aciclovir was discovered in the mid 1970s and used for the treatment of infections caused by most known species of the herpesvirus family.

Ball-and-stick model of the aciclovir molecule

The drug was co-discovered by Howard Schaeffer following his work with Robert Vince, S. Bittner and S. Gurwara on the adenosine analog acycloadenosine, which showed promising antiviral activity.  Schaeffer ­­ to whom a patent was granted in 1979 ­­ later joined Burroughs Wellcome and continued the development of aciclovir with pharmacologist Gertrude B. Elion.

Elion was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine, partly for the development of aciclovir.