Exons are enzymes and part of RNA that codes for proteins. SARS-CoV-2 and highly pathogenic arenaviruses share a structurally and functionally related exon domain. Exons play essential roles in proofreading viral RNA synthesis and suppressing antiviral responses.
Project 4 is aimed at the chemical inhibition of the exon function of these viruses. Our team has contributed extensively to the structural and functional understanding of these viral exon enzymes, including the understanding of their atomic structures and mechanisms. Building on our prior studies, we use three complementary approaches (ultra-high throughput screening, DNA-encoded technology and virtual screening) to identify first-in-class viral exon inhibitors.
We aim to discover a new class of antiviral drug candidates with a distinct mechanism of action to complement or enhance those developed against other viral targets. In addition, our work will address the critical need for novel therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 and the highly pathogenic arenaviruses that causes fatal human hemorrhagic fever infections.