Developing new drugs to treat SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses

Researchers in Utrecht, Leiden and Nijmegen join forces

Utrecht University’s Department of Virology (Veterinary Medicine) is currently working on several research projects into antiviral drugs to treat the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. As part of the PanCoroNed project, UU virologists have been working alongside researchers from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) to test the antiviral effectiveness of molecules that are being developed at Radboud University.

The PanCoroNed project will receive a €1.2 million grant from Holland Health (Top Sector Life Sciences & Health). This project sees the UU work alongside researchers from Radboud University, LUMC, Protinhi Therapeutics and Avivia. The objective is to design and synthesise new protease inhibitors (protease is a protein that cleaves, or cuts into, another protein or separates two proteins from one another) and to test how effective they are. The researchers are looking for molecules that inhibit a variety of coronaviruses in order to ensure that they are effective against SARS-CoV-2 and any other novel coronaviruses that may emerge in the future.

I hope that we can develop effective inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 protein that can have a positive impact on the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Inhibiting coronaviruses

In addition to vaccines, it is equally vital to develop antiviral drugs aimed at inhibiting coronaviruses. The research focuses on identifying molecules that can inhibit the multiplication of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses. The molecules are initially studied in Nijmegen, after which they are tested on SARS-CoV-2 in Utrecht and Leiden.