Antiviral cell-based screen to identify compounds that inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication, based upon inhibition of virus-induced cytopathic effect

University of St Andrews

Active award

Principal Investigator: Dr Catherine Anderson

Year Award Started: 2020

The coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes the disease Covid-19. Thousands of people worldwide have become seriously ill or have died of Covid-19. Drugs to treat Covid-19 patients are urgently needed. We aim to identify chemicals that stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from growing, which can be developed into newantiviral drugs to treat Covid-19 patients. Viruses can kill the cells that they grow in. This virus induced cell killing is called the cytopathic effect. SARS-CoV-2 causes cytopathic effect when it grows in cells in the laboratory. Addition of a drug that blocks the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in cells, would prevent the cytopathic effect and the cells would remain healthy. We will develop a laboratory test to allow us to identify chemicals that stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from growing in cells, leaving healthy cells. We will use a reagent that when taken up by healthy cells is converted into a red-fluorescent signal. We will test thousands of different chemicals by measuring if a red-fluorescent signal is deteced when each chemical is added to SARS-CoV-2 infected-cells. Detection of red-fluorescent signal, would mean SARS-CoV growth is blocked and that chemical, or chemicals related to it, could be rapidly developed into an antiviral drug to treat Covid-19.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology