NRTIs are indicated for treating HIV and target reverse transcriptase activity.
ZDV, or zidovudine, is a specific NRTI used to provide general prophylaxis as well as for pregnant women who are HIV positive to decrease the risk of fetal transmission.
NRTIs are a class of drugs that work by competitively inhibiting nucleotide binding to reverse transcriptase. This inhibition prevents the virus from making a DNA copy of its RNA.
By binding to the viral reverse transcriptase, these medications lead to elongating DNA (which is viral) chain termination. A lack of a 3'-OH group in the incorporated nucleotide analogue prevents DNA chain elongation, and therefore, the viral DNA growth is terminated.
NRTIs need to become "activated" and require phosphorylation from the host cell.
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