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Fragment Based Strategies for Discovery of Novel HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase and Integrase Inhibitors

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a global health problem. While combined antiretroviral therapy has been successful in controlling the virus in patients, HIV can develop resistance to drugs used for treatment, rendering available drugs less effective and limiting treatment options. Initiatives to find novel drugs for HIV treatment are ongoing, although traditional drug design approaches often focus on known binding sites for inhibition of established drug targets like reverse transcriptase and integrase. These approaches tend towards generating more inhibitors in the same drug classes already used in the clinic. Lack of diversity in antiretroviral drug classes can result in limited treatment options, as cross-resistance can emerge to a whole drug class in patients treated with only one drug from that class. A fresh approach in the search for new HIV-1 drugs is fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD), a validated strategy for drug discovery based on using smaller libraries of low molecular weight molecules (<300 Da) screened using primarily biophysical assays. FBDD is aimed at not only finding novel drug scaffolds, but also probing the target protein to find new, often allosteric, inhibitory binding sites. Several fragment-based strategies have been successful in identifying novel inhibitory sites or scaffolds for two proven drug targets for HIV-1, reverse transcriptase and integrase. While any FBDD-generated HIV-1 drugs have yet to enter the clinic, recent FBDD initiatives against these two well-characterised HIV-1 targets have reinvigorated antiretroviral drug discovery and the search for novel classes of HIV-1 drugs.
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Keywords: Antiretrovirals; Fragment screening; Fragment-based drug discovery; HIV-1; Integrase; Reverse transcriptase

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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