Uncovering novel antiviral drug targets by embracing neuroscience tools and know-how in the context of virology.
In 2019, viral infections were the 4th leading cause of death in the world. COVID19 has stimulated the interest on the development of antivirals. Most novel drugs originate from preclinical research at small companies that identify novel molecular targets bought by the big pharmaceuticals. And this is where we come in.
We recently identified an ion channel as a novel molecular target for drug development. We joined the project as ion channel experts because most virologist are unfamiliar with these proteins. In fact, ion channels have been largely unexplored as antiviral targets, despite 19% of the currently FDA-approved drugs being ion channel modulators. Our idea is to use our neuroscience expertise to explore ion channels as molecular drug targets for viral infections.
Current antivirals target very few molecular pathways. Radical new ideas are needed, and our neuroscience expertise provides a completely new avenue of exploration, the interaction between ion channels and virus. This data will be crucial for drug design and clinical trial applications. Our model identified 4 strong candidate antivirals from a pool of 30 drugs already and has potential for growth.