Prosetta Biosciences, a San Francisco biotechnology company, has developed novel small-molecule drugs that research indicates are effective not only against the COVID-19 virus, but against other virus families that cause respiratory disease, including influenza and the common cold – without the liability of drug resistance development.
The compounds work in a new way: instead of interfering with the virus’s own functions, as do traditional antiviral drugs, this approach targets a newly appreciated structure within human cells that is hijacked and altered by viruses when they infect the cell, as part of their replication process.
A large body of work suggests that to be successful a virus must not only reconfigure and redirect host cell machinery needed for its replication, but must also block the fundamental host defense termed innate immunity. Novel biochemical readouts of both of these viral actions have been established by the Prosetta team, and the new drugs shown to oppose the virus on both fronts.
The new drugs are also shown to avoid development of resistance due to viral mutations, an important liability of vaccines and conventional anti-viral drugs.
As noted, these new drugs are effective not only against coronaviruses, but also against the other major human respiratory viruses (influenza, RSV, adenovirus, rhinovirus and herpesviruses). This has obvious implications for the successful deployment of the compounds against the current and future pandemic threats, whether from new mutations of SARS-CoV-2 or other new strains of respiratory viruses including influenza. Prosetta’s manuscript can be accessed at:
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