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My research program is engaged in exploring the mechanisms viruses use to persist in a host. This work involves developing new approaches to treating viral infections ranging from blocking attachment to host cells to interrupting viral and host macromolecular synthesis within the cell. Natural, aqueous extracts of Quillaja Saponaria, the Chilean Soap Bark tree, contain a number of physiologically active treterpenoid saponins that exhibit strong adjuvant activity and have been exploited in both human and animal vaccines. I am engaged in developing saponins to block viral infections in humans and animals, including herpes viruses, rotavirus and HIV. With increased urgency for new approaches to treat old diseases, such as smallpox, and newly emerging threats, including SARS, pressures to develop antiviral treatments are mounting. Viruses, for the most part, utilize cellular machinery to replicate the viral genome and produce new virus particles. In an attempt to target viral replication, the cellular processes in uninfected cells are also undesirably affected. Polymeric drugs offer the opportunity to avoid some of these effects. As part of a collaborative effort with Dr. Charles Carraher, Jr. at Florida Atlantic University, I am involved in the application of organotin and other metal-containing polymers as novel antiviral and antitumor drugs.