The development of novel compounds that can effectively inhibit both wild type and the most consensus resistant strains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the primary focus in HIV disease management. Combination therapy, comprising at least three classes of drugs, has become the standard of care for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or HIV-infected individuals. The drug cocktail can comprise all three classes of HIV inhibitors, including nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) and protease inhibitors (PI). Due to their competitive mode of inhibition and requirement for metabolic activation, almost all NRTI drugs lack the virological potency of NNRTI or PI drugs. However, data from clinical trials indicate that sustained viral suppression could not be achieved with NRTI, NNRTI or PIs alone. Therefore, the NRTIs will remain essential components of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for the foreseeable future, because they enhance the virological potency of the regimen, they do not bind excessively to protein and most regimens are small pills / tablets given once a day. It has become apparent in recent years that the prolonged use of certain NRTIs exhibits adverse events as a class, limiting the length of time for which they can be safely used. Of major clinical concern is their association with the potentially fatal lactic acidaemia and hepatic steatosis. These class events, as well as individual drug effects, such as peripheral neuropathy, are linked to delayed mitochondrial destruction. In addition to toxicity, the development of resistance-conferring mutations against exposure to nucleoside analogs currently in use influences longterm therapeutic benefits. Of critical importance for the evaluation of new NRTIs are recent studies showing that the efficiency of discrimination or excision by pyrophosphorolysis in the presence of nucleotides of a given NRTI is a key determinant in the emergence of one or the other resistance pathway.
Keywords: nucleoside analogs, purine analogs, pyrimidine analogs, combination therapy, phosphorylation, pharmacokinetics, mitochondrial toxicity, resistance
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