Despite the unprecedented successes in the therapy of HIV infection, AIDS remains a major world health problem being the first cause of death in Africa and the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Rapid emergence of drug-resistant HIV variants and severe side effects limit the efficacy of existing therapies. The intrinsic high variability of HIV calls for combining different drugs with distinct mode of action to achieve synergistic antiviral activity. Efforts are being made to develop agents address- ing new steps in HIV replication and to optimize both antiviral activity and pharmacokinetic of the current drugs targeting reverse transcriptase and protease. The class of viral entry inhibitors is undergoing evaluation for both systemic and topical administration, and compounds targeting the fusion step may be the first to reach the market. Identification of compounds unambiguously affecting HIV replication by targeting integrase supports the potential of this crucial viral enzyme as a drug targ et. Targeting HIV gene regulation, which could also lead to cellular toxicity, may also become an important discovery strategy, provided that inhibitors with sufficient specificity are identified. In this review we will summarize the current understanding of the key steps in HIV life cycle in the context of representative inhibitors based on their modes of action. We then present a summary of compounds under clinical development, with the aim of providing a picture of the current potential for targeting HIV.
Keywords: Targeting HIV, Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), anti-HIV drugs, HIV genome, HIV-1 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), Saquinavir, Indinavir, Nelfinavir, Tipranavir, REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION
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