The U.S. government is looking for the next AZT, Viagra and thalidomide — substances that washed out as treatments for one disease but later turned out to work well against a totally different ailment.

AZT failed as a cancer drug but became the first antiviral to work against HIV. Viagra didn’t succeed as a treatment for angina but turned out to be great against impotence. Thalidomide, the notorious morning sickness pill that caused thousands of birth defects in Europe, is a treatment for leprosy and multiple myeloma.
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