• A potential protease inhibitor to fight against COVID-19
Tuesday, 24 March, 2020
IQS Tech Transfer

Image of the structural model of the SARS-CoV-2 virus protease


The current coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has mobilised researchers from around the world to try to find treatments to fight the disease, as well as tools that help to manage the health care crisis the virus has caused.

In Catalonia 17 initiatives are working along these lines. One of them comes from the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Group (GQF) at the IQS School of Engineering, through its experts in designing and synthesising new drugs. The researchers in this group have worked for a long time on this line of research that proposes kinase protein inhibitors for the treatment of a variety of diseases, such as different types of cancer and hepatitis C. Their studies are focused on finding inhibitors of the therapeutic targets responsible for the diseases, based on their experience in computational design and synthesising biologically active molecules.

Along this line, the IQS research group developed an NS5B polymerase inhibitor of the hepatitis C virus[i], with an EC50 similar to the one reported for Sofosbuvir (a drug currently on the market to treat this disease).

Applying the molecular modelling techniques has allowed the researchers from GQF-IQS to evaluate if the compound with antiviral activity against hepatitis C could interact with the Mpro of COVID-19 (whose structure was recently reported in the Protein Data Bank, ID: 6LU7). The  results obtained so far suggest that the compound could interact with the active centre of this protein and block its activity.

[i] Camarasa, M.; Puig de la Bellacasa, R. P.; González, À. L.; Ondoño, R.; Estrada, R.; Franco, S.; Badia, R.; Esté, J.; Martínez, M. Á.; Teixidó, J.; Clotet, B.; Borrell, J. I. Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Pyrido[2,3-d]Pyrimidin-7-(8H)-Ones as HCV Inhibitors. Eur. J. Med. Chem. 2016115, 463–483.