Antiretroviral Drugs: Current Therapy, Recent Developments and Future Perspectives
Pp. 3-57 (55)
Matthew Phillips and Jenny Svärd
The treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been a
great success story of our time; from the widespread panic in the early 1980’s when the
virus was identified as the cause of AIDS, to the availability of a whole plethora of
drugs to treat and effectively control HIV infection, developed after millions of dollars
of research funding investments. However, this treatment is not entirely problem-free.
From the early days of antiretroviral (ARV) monotherapy, to the mid 1990’s when triple
therapy (highly active antiretroviral treatment, HAART) was discovered to be not only
more effective but less toxic, there has been ongoing work to change the face of HIV
treatment. This work can be broadly split into three categories, being:
1. developing drugs to target different stages of the life cycle.
2. developing novel drugs and refining the use of current drugs to reduce toxicities
and side effects.
3. reducing the pill burden and the impact of daily therapy.
In part I, the life cycle of HIV and the targets of current therapy will be presented in terms
of their individual actions and side effects. This section is completed by an exploration of
wider issues surrounding anti-HIV therapy including distribution, cost and regular access.
Part II will examine three key aspects of new drugs in development. This examination will
be of new ARV agents in development, including some agents very recently licensed. The
first aspect will be drugs in the pipeline which are directed against existing drug targets;
potential differences between these drugs compared to current agents will be outlined. The
second aspect is the most exciting, focusing on the development of novel drugs for novel
targets in the HIV life cycle. The final aspect of part II will be to examine the role of these
new drugs in adding to an already complex treatment arena - are these drugs for patients
who have failed other therapies, or do their new actions and side effect profiles make them
more useful for first line treatment? Will their expense or mode of delivery make them
simply inaccessible to people living with HIV?
Part III will contain the conclusions pertaining to the preceding section, and will
examine potential for the development of even newer drugs in terms of targets, efficacy,
toxicities and acceptability. The two facets that will be explored are the potential for the
correction of deficits in current treatment and potential new drugs.
Adverse effects, adherence, antiretroviral drug development, HIV,
HIV life cycle.
Department of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton, UK.