HIV/AIDS Research

HIV/AIDS Research

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America has a database of new HIV drugs that are in the developmental stage. Researchers are currently testing new protease inhibitors and more potent, less toxic reverse transcriptase inhibitors, as well as drugs that interfere with different steps in the virus’ lifecycle.

Currently in development are several nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) which are hoped to be effective if patients have developed resistence to older NRTIs; a few non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) which will hopefully be active for those who’ve developed resistence to NNRTIs like Sustiva and Viramune, as well as against strains of the virus that are resistant to other NNRTIs; integrase inhibitors like Isentress; a new “booster” drug that will act as Norvir currently does to boost other drugs in combinations.

Two drugs in the new class called maturation inhibitors; and two monoclonal antibodies that will bind to receptors on T-cells to prevent HIV from entering the cells

Cellular metabolism modulators

Cellular metabolism modulators are undergoing research. These drugs disrupt the cellular processes involved in HIV replication.

Gene therapy

Gene therapy may be a beneficial HIV treatment in the future. The process involves inserting modified genes (DNA) directly into the body’s cells in order to slow or stop HIV from multiplying. Scientists are trying to insert genes that provide the body with instructions on how to produce T-cells that are genetically resistant to the virus.

Immune modulators

Scientists are also learning how immune modulators, or drugs that alter the immune system, help enhance the immune system’s response to HIV in order to potentially make current anti-HIV drugs more effective.

Maturation inhibitors

Researchers are studying maturation inhibitors, as a potential new class of antiretrovirals. These drugs disrupt the final stage of the HIV life cycle, when new virus particles are released into the blood. Currently, Bevirimat (PA-457) is the only maturation inhibitor undergoing clinical testing. This drug is derived from a Chinese herb called Syzigium claviflorum.

Synergistic enhancers

Another group of medications, called synergistic enhancers, or ‘boosters’, may also be used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV. These medications do not act as antiretrovirals when taken alone, but they have been shown to improve the antiretrovirals effects of other drugs, including ritonavir (Norvir®).


Therapeutic vaccines are also being tested as a way to prevent HIV infection.

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