Virtually all the compounds that are currently used, or under advanced clinical trial, for the treatment of HIV infections, belong to one of the following classes: (i) nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), (ii) non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and (iii) protease inhibitors (PIs). In addition to the reverse transcriptase and protease step, various other events in the HIV replicative cycle are potential targets for chemotherapeutic intervention: (i) viral adsorption, through binding to the viral envelope glycoprotein gp120 (polysulphates, polysulphonates, polyoxometalates, zintevir, negatively charged albumins); (ii) viral entry, through blockade of the viral coreceptors CXCR4 and CCR5 [bicyclams (AMD3100), polyphemusins (T22), TAK-779]; (iii) virus-cell fusion, through binding to the viral glycoprotein gp41 [T-20 (DP-178), siamycins, betulinic acid derivatives]; (iv) viral assembly and disassembly, through NCp7 zinc finger-targeted agents [2,2'-dithiobisbenzamides (DIBAs), azadicarbonamide (ADA)]; (v) proviral DNA integration, through integrase inhibitors such as L-chicoric acid; (vi) viral mRNA transcription, through inhibitors of the transcription (transactivation) process (peptoid CGP64222, fluoroquinolone K-12, Streptomyces product EM2487). Also, in recent years new NRTIs, NNRTIs and PIs have been developed that possess, respectively, improved metabolic characteristics (i.e. phosphoramidate and cyclosaligenyl pronucleotides of d4T), or increased activity against NNRTI-resistant HIV strains, or, in the case of PIs, a different, non-peptidic scaffold. Given the multitude of molecular targets with which anti-HIV agents can interact, one should be cautious in extrapolating from cell-free enzymatic assays to the mode of action of these agents in intact cells. A number of compounds (i.e. zintevir and L-chicoric acid, on the one hand; and CGP64222 on the other hand) have recently been found to interact with virus-cell binding and viral entry in contrast to their proposed modes of action targeted at the integrase and transactivation process, respectively.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.