Protease Inhibitors (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
A protease inhibitor is a type of drug that cripples the enzyme protease. An enzyme is a substance that triggers chemical reactions in the body. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) uses protease in the final stages of its reproduction (replication) process.
The drug is used to treat selected patients with HIV infection. Blocking protease interferes with HIV reproduction, causing it to make copies of itself that cannot infect new cells. The drug may improve symptoms and suppress the infection but does not cure it.
Patients should not discontinue this drug even if symptoms improve without consulting a doctor.
These drugs do not necessarily reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others through sexual contact, so patients should avoid sexual activities or use condoms.
Protease inhibitors are considered one of the most potent medications for HIV developed so far.
This class of drugs includes indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), nelfinavir (Viracept), and saquinavir (Invirase or Fortovase). Several weeks or months of drug therapy may be required before the full benefits are apparent.
The drug should be taken...
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Protease Inhibitors (Encyclopedia of Science)
Protease inhibitors (pronounced PRO-tee-ace in-HIH-bi-ters) are a new type of drugs that slow down the spread of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) inside a person's body. HIV is the virus that causes the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The drugs work by interrupting the way the AIDS virus uses a healthy cell to make copies of itself. Although not a cure for this disease, protease inhibitors have proven to be a powerful anti-HIV drug, especially when taken in combination with certain other drugs.
AIDS is a contagious disease caused by a virus that disables the immune system, which is the body's natural defense against diseasecausing organisms. HIV enters the body through the bloodstream, duplicates itself rapidly, and eventually destroys the body's immune system. This leaves the victim susceptible to other infectious diseases that usually prove fatal.
AIDS cannot be spread by the type of casual contact that usually occurs between family and friends. HIV must somehow enter the bloodstream to infect a person, and the most common way for this to happen is through some form of sexual contact that allows bodily fluids from one person to enter that of another. This is what occurs during any type of sexual intercourse or sexual penetration of a person's body. Another way is for an infected intravenous drug user to share a...
(The entire section is 1052 words.)