This class of compounds is a common treatment for viral diseases, most notably HIV. AZT is the most well known of the nucleoside analogs (NAs), but they all have fairly similar overall structure. They follow the basic nucleoside moiety, but are always 2',3'-dideoxy or didehydroxy, to prevent them from being incorporated into an elongating DNA chain. Instead, they occupy the active site of reverse transcriptase and prevent it from functioning. In general, this class of compounds is toxic to the bone marrow, requiring that they only be used when the disease is severe enough. Some examples of nucleoside analogs other than AZT include 2',3'-didehydro-3'-deoxythymidine (d4T) and 2',3'-dideoxyinosine (ddI), both of which seem to cause less marrow toxicity than AZT.

The antivirals which are used for the treatment of herpes and shingles(zoster) are also nucleoside analogs (acyclovir, valacylovir aka Valtrex), but are considerably different in structure from the HIV drugs.

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