Promising molecule for the treatment of COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

The Uppsala researchers have succeeded in designing a molecule that inhibits coronavirus replication and has great potential for development into a drug suitable for the treatment of COVID-19. The molecule is effective both against the new variant and against previously identified coronaviruses. The article was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The new coronavirus has claimed more than five million lives. Many lives could have been saved with antiviral drugs, but no such treatment was made available to the health system. During the pandemic, researchers around the world have tried to find a drug, but the development of new drugs often takes a long time.

During the first months of the pandemic, researchers were able to determine the structure of the coronavirus and how it works at the molecular level. One of the viral enzymes has been identified as a promising drug target, a strategy that has been successful for other viral diseases, such as AIDS. The idea is to design a molecule capable of recognizing and binding to the enzyme. This would block its activity and thus prevent the virus from producing new virus particles, thus stopping the spread of the virus.

In 2020, researchers at Uppsala University, in collaboration with Scilifelab’s drug discovery and development platform, began screening for inhibitors of the enzyme. They used computer models to identify molecules that can inhibit the enzyme’s activity. This has proven to be a quick way to discover starting points for designing pharmaceuticals. Access to Swedish supercomputers has made it possible to evaluate several hundred million different molecules to find those that can bind to the enzyme. The molecules predicted by the models were then synthesized and tested experimentally.

“The most promising molecule shows the same ability to inhibit the replication of the new coronavirus as the active substance of Paxlovid, a drug combination recently approved for the treatment of COVID-19. Our molecule works well on its own, and we have shown that the molecule is also effective against previously identified variants of the coronavirus,” says Jens Carlsson, associate professor and lead author of the paper.

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Material provided by Uppsala University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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