Capsid Inhibition with Lenacapavir in Multidrug-Resistant HIV-1 Infection

N Engl J Med. 2022 May 12;386(19):1793-1803. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2115542.


Background: Patients with multidrug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection have limited treatment options. Lenacapavir is a first-in-class capsid inhibitor that showed substantial antiviral activity in a phase 1b study.

Methods: In this phase 3 trial, we enrolled patients with multidrug-resistant HIV-1 infection in two cohorts, according to the change in the plasma HIV-1 RNA level between the screening and cohort-selection visits. In cohort 1, patients were first randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive oral lenacapavir or placebo in addition to their failing therapy for 14 days; during the maintenance period, starting on day 15, patients in the lenacapavir group received subcutaneous lenacapavir once every 6 months, and those in the placebo group received oral lenacapavir, followed by subcutaneous lenacapavir; both groups also received optimized background therapy. In cohort 2, all the patients received open-label oral lenacapavir with optimized background therapy on days 1 through 14; subcutaneous lenacapavir was then administered once every 6 months starting on day 15. The primary end point was the percentage of patients in cohort 1 who had a decrease of at least 0.5 log10 copies per milliliter in the viral load by day 15; a key secondary end point was a viral load of less than 50 copies per milliliter at week 26.

Results: A total of 72 patients were enrolled, with 36 in each cohort. In cohort 1, a decrease of at least 0.5 log10 copies per milliliter in the viral load by day 15 was observed in 21 of 24 patients (88%) in the lenacapavir group and in 2 of 12 patients (17%) in the placebo group (absolute difference, 71 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, 35 to 90). At week 26, a viral load of less than 50 copies per milliliter was reported in 81% of the patients in cohort 1 and in 83% in cohort 2, with a least-squares mean increase in the CD4+ count of 75 and 104 cells per cubic millimeter, respectively. No serious adverse events related to lenacapavir were identified. In both cohorts, lenacapavir-related capsid substitutions that were associated with decreased susceptibility developed in 8 patients during the maintenance period (6 with M66I substitutions).

Conclusions: In patients with multidrug-resistant HIV-1 infection, those who received lenacapavir had a greater reduction from baseline in viral load than those who received placebo. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; CAPELLA number, NCT04150068.).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Capsid
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Viral*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / virology
  • HIV-1* / drug effects
  • HIV-1* / genetics
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • RNA, Viral

Associated data