NRTI or Nucleoside / Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor is a class of anti-HIV drugs. Quite a few drugs for the HIV infected patients are available in the market that fall under this category of anti-HIV drugs. It is often can be seen that one NRTI is used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs. Besides the NRTIs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the people who are living with HIV, there are some unapproved versions of this drug for the HIV infected patients that are also available in the market.
NRTIs, sometimes referred to as Nucleoside Analogues or Nukes for short, prevent healthy T-cells in the body from becoming infected with HIV. When HIV infects a cell in a persons body, it copies its own genetic code into the DNA of the cell. In the similar fashion, the cell is then programmed to create new copies of HIV. This continuous process keeps creating lots of copies of HIV and hence increases the number of the virus. The genetic material of HIV is in the form of RNA. In order to infect the T-cells, it must be converted its RNA to DNA first. Here comes the role of Reverse Transcriptase Enzyme of HIV, which performs this process.
NRTIs contain faulty versions of the building blocks used by the reverse transcritase to convert RNA to DNA. When reverse transcriptase uses these faulty building blocks, the new DNA cannot be built correctly. As a result, the genetic material of the HIV cannot be incorporated into the healthy genetic material of the cell and hence prevents the cell from producing new virus.
NRTIs should be taken in combination with other anti-HIV drugs, usually a total number of three drugs. This combination therapy works well and can block the replication of HIV in the blood of the patient. Following are the names of some NRTIs along with their trade names:
Didanosine (Videx, Videx EC)
Stavudine (Zerit, Zerit XR)
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