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Newly-Engineered Antiviral Compounds Can Neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in Human Airway Cells

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 Aug 2020
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Dr. Bill Groutas, Wichita State University
Dr. Bill Groutas, Wichita State University
A team of virologists from the Wichita State University (Wichita, KS, USA) has published a study revealing how molecule protease inhibitors show potency against human coronaviruses, paving the way for a possible therapeutic treatment for COVID-19.

Pathogenic coronaviruses are a major threat to global public health, as shown by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or SARS-CoV; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, known as MERS-CoV; and the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. The published study titled “3C-like protease inhibitors block SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro and increase survival in MERS-CoV-infected mice” which appears in the medical journal Science Translational Medicine, reveals how small molecule protease inhibitors show potency against human coronaviruses. These coronavirus 3C-like proteases, known as 3CLpro, are strong therapeutic targets because they play vital roles in coronavirus replication.

The study demonstrates that this series of optimized coronavirus 3CLpro inhibitors blocked replication of the human coronaviruses MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells and in a mouse model for MERS. These findings suggest that this series of compounds should be investigated further as a potential therapeutic for human coronavirus infection. The new compounds in the publication are exclusively licensed and being developed by Cocrystal Pharma for COVID-19.

“Our studies have demonstrated proof-of-concept, and we are excited about our partnership with CoCrystal Pharma to explore the development of this series of compounds as COVID-19 therapeutics,” said Dr. Bill Groutas, Wichita State University medical chemist, who was part of a team that published the study.

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