Novel Therapeutic Agents Targeting Replication of COVID-19

Illustration of coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a family of enveloped single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses causing respiratory diseases in mammals. Human coronaviruses known to cause severe symptoms include SARS, MERS, and more recently SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Different from many other types of viruses that synthesize their proteins in a cap-independent manner, coronavirus synthesizes its proteins in a cap-dependent manner using the protein synthetic machinery of its host cells.

Previous studies have shown that targeting the protein eIF4E, which controls cap-dependent synthesis, can block coronavirus replication in human cells. Led by Da-Qing Yang, PhD, assistant professor at The Hormel Institute, researchers in this study will use their newly developed cap-dependent inhibitors against eIF4E to test the hypothesis that these inhibitors, recently patented by the University of Minnesota, can block coronavirus replication and infection in human cells, which may lead to the development of new and potent agents against COVID-19 infection.

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.