Instead of targeting the virus, scientists are now focussing on dealing with the environment and conditions viruses need to survive and multiply, to make antiviral drugs more effective..
University of Edinburgh researchers devised a new strategy wherein if the site of infection is made less hospitable for the virus, the virus becomes less able to mutate and build up resistance to drugs.
AdvertisementAlso, by adapting the virus host environment the researchers were able to target different types of viruses.
The research could lead to new treatments for patients suffering from a range of infections.
"Since new viral strains emerge frequently, and many infections are difficult to diagnose and treat, it is important to find new ways of targeting infection," said Dr Amy Buck, of the University's Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution.
"Our hope is that we will be able to use host-directed therapies to supplement the natural immune response and disable viruses by taking away what they need to survive," she added.
Scientists studied the herpes family of viruses, which can also cause cancer with the Epstein-Barr virus, and the Semliki Forest virus, which is mainly spread by mosquitoes.
Further research has begun to look at how this method could be used to target influenza.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).