Saquinavir (brand names Invirase and Fortovase) is an antiretroviral drug used together with other medications to treat or prevent HIV/AIDS. Saquinavir is an inhibitor of HIV protease. HIV protease is an enzyme required for the proteolytic cleavage of viral polyprotein precursors into individual functional proteins found in infectious HIV. Saquinavir is a peptide-like substrate analog that binds to the protease active site and inhibits the activity of the enzyme. Saquinavir inhibition prevents cleavage of the viral polyproteins resulting in the formation of immature noninfectious virus particles. The most frequent adverse events with saquinavir in either formulation are mild gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, loose stools & abdominal discomfort. Invirase is better tolerated than Fortovase. NCATS
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