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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Sensitive radioimmunoassay for the broad-spectrum antiviral agent ribavirin.

Ribavirin, 1-beta-D-ribofuranosyl-1,2,4-triazole-3-carboxyamide (Virazole; Viratek, Inc., Covina, Calif.), has a broad spectrum of antiviral activity. However, the study of the absorption, metabolism, and excretion of this compound has been limited by the lack of an appropriate assay for ribavirin and its metabolites. Since ribavirin has definite potential for therapeutic use, we developed a radioimmunoassay to measure ribavirin levels in clinical specimens. To prepare an effective immunogen, ribavirin was monosuccinylated and coupled to ovalbumin. The competitive binding radioimmunoassay, in which tritium-labeled ribavirin and rabbit antiribavirin serum were used, was quantitative for ribavirin at concentrations of 1 pmol/100 microliter in urine or plasma samples. The rabbit antibody cross-reacted with the major metabolite of ribavirin, 1,2,4-triazole-3-carboxamide, at a low level (2 to 5%) which did not interfere with ribavirin binding until concentrations of 1,2,4-triazole-3-carboxamide 10- to 100-fold higher than ribavirin were present in mock samples, a condition not present in biological specimens. We used the ribavirin radioimmunoassay to determine the ribavirin concentration in mouse plasma after intraperitoneal administration, in the sera of adults from Sierra Leone after oral or intravenous administration for treatment of suspected Lassa fever, and in the sera of children in the United States after small-particle aerosol administration. Our experience with the radioimmunoassay indicates that it is sensitive, accurate, and reproducible. The assay will permit studies leading to a better understanding of the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of this potentially useful antiviral drug.[1]


  1. Sensitive radioimmunoassay for the broad-spectrum antiviral agent ribavirin. Austin, R.K., Trefts, P.E., Hintz, M., Connor, J.D., Kagnoff, M.F. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. (1983) [Pubmed]
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