Development of an anti-viral screening platform for SARS-Cov2

University of Edinburgh

Active award

Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Skehel

Year Award Started: 2020

The aim of this project is to develop a simple system with which to rapidly test hundreds of drugs as potential therapies against SARS-Cov2. Viruses are very simple parasites. They cannot reproduce themselves alone, but must highjack parts of a host. If one can interfere with this highjacking it may be possible to stop the virus from replicating even after an individual has been infected. But how can you tell if a virus is attempting to highjack a cell? We have developed cells that should fluoresce with a yellowish-green colour if a part of the virus attempts to highjack the cell. Because this light signal is readily detected and the cells are very easy to grow, they could be used to rapidly test different drugs. If a drug changes the amount of light coming from the cells, then it is affected the ability of the virus to highjack the cell, and could therefore represent a new treatment against SARS-COv2. This is a proof of principle study to test how well this system might work. If successful it could be readily expanded and automated, allowing 1000s of new compounds to be screened for potential antiviral activity.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology