COVID-19 caught researchers short. Its rampant spread left no time to target studies through rational drug design approaches. The National Research Council, the largest public research institution in Italy has joined forces with the Molecular Virology lab in Trieste, to search for a drug able to eliminate Coronavirus: this is the FARMACOVID project.
Dr. Eloise Mastrangelo and Dr. Mario Milani at the “Istituto di Biofisica” (Ibf) of the National Research Council (CNR), in Milan and the laboratory of Molecular Virology of ICGEB in Trieste, headed by Dr. Alessandro Marcello, are searching for a drug able to eliminate Coronavirus.
The Molecular Virology laboratory studies the mechanisms of infection and develops methods of virus detection. An important result has been the sequencing of the viral genome isolated between the first Italian patients of COVID-19 and its characterisation. The lab’s experience and latest generation techniques are strengths in the study of the antiviral potential on human cells.
The Ibf CRN, located in Milan, Italy, studies the structure and mechanisms underlying biological systems. Since 2005, the Structural Biology unit has been studying how to inhibit the replicative system of RNA viruses through structural and functional studies of the proteins involved in viral replication. The research activities include the first stages of the development of antiviral drugs, studying their structure and action at the atomic and molecular level. This specific expertise is essential to finely target detailed motifs, as the structures of viral proteins, and to rationally design drugs.
The FARMACOVID Project
In the short term, the first aim of the research is drug-discovery. In particular, the Structural Biology unit of the Istituto di Biofisica has selected a set of candidate compounds based on computational methods of virtual screening applied directly to SARS-CoV-2 protein targets. The Molecular Virology laboratory at ICGEB is studying the antiviral activity of these compounds directly on human cells infected with COVID-19. The ultimate characterisation of the best antiviral candidates is needed before reaching patients.
The researchers also wish to extend their research to possible mutations of this Coronavirus. The project will also include the analysis and in-depth study of variable regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and the production of viral protein variants. In the long term, this approach will allow for the rational design of new antivirals, demonstrating how scientific research can sustain the emergency.
Updates on this project are posted on a dedicated page.
- Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche CNR: The crowdfunding initiative for the Project FarmaCovid is now online
- Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche CNR: Cnr-Ibf e Icgeb insieme nel progetto ‘Farmacovid’
- IBF Istituto di Biofisica: Una potenziale arma contro il Covid-19 da un brevetto “made in italy”
- Radio Rai1: Dr. Eloise Mastrangelo “Inviato Speciale” Le ricerche virologiche del gruppo di biologia strutturale del Cnr-Ibf di Milano
- The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been isolated and the full genome sequenced at the Molecular Virology Lab – ICGEB Trieste – Italy
- ICGEB COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Resource Page Open Access Resources, Tools and Know-how to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19
- Il Piccolo, 26 maggio 2020: Icgeb, un farmaco per stoppare il virus
- Radio Rai FVG RADAR, 9 giugno 2020: Alessandro Marcello e Mario Milani per parlare di #farmacovid
Social Media links: #FarmaCovid