News of the WeekAIDS Research

Outsmarting HIV Drug Resistance

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1623
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1623b

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Many AIDS drugs act by interfering with a key HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT), but eventually the replicating virus mutates into strains whose RT is resistant to the drugs, forcing patients to move on to new drugs or drug combinations. Now a team from Harvard University has obtained an atomic portrait of the enzyme that should give new clues to how the virus foils existing drugs, along with targets for new drugs that might be harder to thwart. On page 1669, they present the x-ray crystal structure of RT in a complex with the molecules with which it normally interacts in the HIV life cycle, including one that binds to the same site as many of the existing anti-HIV drugs that work by inhibiting RT, such as AZT and 3TC.