The major etiologic agent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), which belongs to the family of human retroviruses. This pandemic infection affects millions of people worldwide. The most efficient current treatment regimen for HIV-infected individuals combines two or more drugs targeting different HIV-specific enzymes. However, the emergence of multiple drug-resistant HIV-1 strains and the side effects of drug-based therapies make alternative approaches for the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS necessary. RNA-based antiviral approaches are among the most promising for developing long-term anti-HIV therapies. Anti-HIV-1 RNA-based strategies include ribozymes, antisense RNAs, RNA aptamers, RNA decoys, external guide sequences (EGS) for site-specific cleavage of RNA molecules with human ribonuclease P (RNase P), modified small nuclear RNA (RNAu) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). This review describes the main features and functions of viral and cellular targets as well as the different classes of RNA molecules that have been explored in developing therapeutic strategies against HIV infection. Many RNA-based strategies are already being tested in human clinical trials or are currently being developed for future trials.
Keywords: HIV-1, RNA therapies, ribozymes, antisense RNAs, RNA aptamers, small interfering RNAs
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