Islatravir: evaluation of clinical development for HIV and HBV

Samuel W. Gillespie, Athreya S. Reddy, Dana M. Burris, S. Hasan Naqvi, Siddappa N. Byrareddy, Christian L. Lorson, Kamal Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Islatravir (ISL) is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase translocation inhibitor (NRTTI) that inhibits HIV RT through multiple mechanisms. Contrary to all approved NtRTIs, islatravir retains a 3’OH group. In vitro and clinical data show that ISL is an ultrapotent investigational drug with high tolerability. Areas covered: The historical development of islatravir and its mechanisms of HIV and HBV inhibition and resistance are covered. Additionally, the outcomes of Phase I and Phase II clinical trials are discussed. Expert opinion: Current first-line antiretroviral therapy, preexposure, and postexposure prophylactic interventions are highly effective in maintaining low or undetectable viral load. Despite these measures, an unusually high rate of new infections every year warrants developing novel antivirals that can suppress drug-resistant HIV and improve compliance. ISL, an NRTTI once deemed a long-acting drug, was placed on a clinical hold. The outcome of ongoing clinical trials with a reduced ISL dose will decide its future clinical application. Additionally, MK-8527, which inhibits HIV via same mechanism as that of ISL may supersede ISL. Data on ISL inhibition of HBV are scarce, and preclinical data show dramatically lower ISL efficacy against HBV than currently preferred nucleos(t)ide drugs, indicating that ISL may not be a potent anti-HBV drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • clinical trials
  • HBV
  • HIV
  • islatravir
  • long-acting
  • natural polymorphism
  • NtRTI
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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