May 21, 2024
Compound Discovered to Inhibit COVID-19

New Compound Discovered to Inhibit COVID-19 Replication by Targeting ‘Mac-1’ Protein in Cell Models

A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry reveals that a new compound, Compound 27, can prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, from replicating in living cell cultures. The compound specifically targets Mac-1, a protein crucial for SARS-CoV-2’s defense against the human immune response.

Researchers from the University of Kansas, led by Associate Professor Anthony Fehr in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, collaborated with scientists from the University of Oulu in Finland and McDaniel College in Maryland to investigate Compound 27’s potential as an antiviral agent.

Compound 27 was initially identified through high-throughput screening and then further refined by the Finnish team to target Mac-1 specifically. Fehr’s team at KU tested the modified agent against the virus to assess its efficacy.

“Our lab has extensively studied Mac-1 over the years, and we’ve established that this protein is an excellent antiviral target,” Fehr said. “If SARS-CoV-2 lacks this protein, it doesn’t cause disease in mice. Therefore, we believe that compounds targeting Mac-1 could protect people from contracting the disease.”

Compound 27 has shown remarkable effectiveness against Mac-1. According to the researchers, it is the first Mac-1-targeted small molecule to inhibit coronavirus replication in a cell model.

Senior author Lari Lehtiƶ from the University of Oulu explained, “When several high-throughput screening hits for Mac-1 inhibitors shared the same core scaffold, we realized we had discovered something truly promising. Detailed experimental crystal structures showing the binding mode to Mac-1 were essential for designing new analogs. However, there was also an element of luck and intuition that helped us improve Compound 27’s potency.”

The team’s excitement reached new heights when they received an email from the University of Kansas confirming that Compound 27 indeed suppressed SARS-CoV-2 replication.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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