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Viracept (Molecule of the Month for February 2016)

Nelfinavir, HIV, AIDS

Viracept is an antiretroviral drug used in the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Viracept belongs to the class of drugs known as protease inhibitors (PIs) and like other PIs is generally used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. PIs prevent viral replication by inhibiting the activity of protease, an enzyme used by the viruses to cleave nascent proteins for final assembly of new virons. Viracept is presented as the mesilate (mesylate) ester prodrug.. It is marketed by Hoffman-La Roche and Pfizer. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for therapeutic use on March 14, 1997, making it the twelfth approved antiretroviral.

Viracept inhibits HIV-1 and HIV-2 proteases. This protease is an enzyme which cleaves viral protein molecules into smaller fragments, and it is vital for both the replication of the virus within the cell and also the release of mature viral particles from an infected cell. Though this mode of action is common to all protease inhibitors, the precise mode of binding of Viracept to the enzyme may be sufficiently unique to reduce cross-resistance between it and other PIs. Also, not all PIs inhibit both HIV-1 and HIV-2 proteases.

On the 6th June 2007 the world wide Drug Regulatory Agencyies put out an alert requesting the recall of Viracept in circulation because of fears that batches of the therapy may have been contaminated with potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)



Picture of Viracept 3D model

click on the picture of  Viracept above to interact
with the 3D model of the
Viracept structure
(this will open a new browser window)

Picture of Viracept

C3 2H45 N3 O4 S

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for February 2016 )

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