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Vivian Xie
10 Aug 2022

Establishment of antiviral development centre for pandemic-level viruses

Researchers across several US institutions will come together to establish a centre for the research and development of antiviral drugs and therapeutics against pandemic-level viruses.

A centre for antiviral drug development against pandemic-level viruses, such as those that have caused the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics, will be established by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) working in tandem with the National Institutes of Health and other researchers across the United States. 

Scientists and researchers from 16 institutions nationwide will be brought together for the basic, translational, and clinical research of effect responses to life-threatening viral infections that may lead to pandemics. USD $3 million has been granted to UIC for collaborative research with the University of Minnesota to focus on antiviral therapies for filoviruses, including the Ebola virus.  

Regarding the research to be conducted, professor of microbiology and immunology Lijun Rong stated: “Our lab uses high-throughput screening to perform large-scale experiments and generate large sets of data to identify the viral protein targets, which are used by viruses to enter human cells and replicate. We have screened several small molecule libraries and have identified many potent inhibitors against filoviruses, arenaviruses, influenza viruses, henipavirus, HIV, and SARS-2.” 

Start-up company Chicago BioSolutions will also be participating in the research and development of a potential antiviral for Ebola. Researchers are hopefully that the next 3–5 years will see a drug ready for testing in humans. Rong continued: “The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the public’s eye about the dangers of emerging and re-emerging viral pathogens and this funding mechanism and research is critical in becoming better armed to combat the impact of these pathogens in the future.” 

Source: Developing antivirals for pandemic-level viruses | UIC Today 

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