COVID-19 has disrupted the world, produced chaos and posed a significant threat to global health. Since the first outbreak, several treatments have been developed to prevent the spread of this virus with many vaccines approved and extensively administered. However, the fact that SARS-CoV-2 rapidly mutates makes the efficacy and safety of this approach constantly under debate and the development of small molecule antivirals are still needed to combat the infection.
To tackle this global challenge, Al Jalila Foundation took the lead to support promising local research to fight COVID-19. One of these studies is led by Professor Taleb Al-Tel from the University of Sharjah and is directed toward the discovery of small molecules that inhibits the proteases enzymes of the virus with the aim to discover first-in-class treatment options.
Professor Taleb’s research has developed modular and efficient strategies to access the core scaffolds of various classes of nature-inspired compound collection employing complexity-to-diversity strategy. From this collection, a relatively potent lead drug candidate was discovered that covalently binds to the main protease of the virus.
Another finding is the discovery of novel small molecules that are potent inhibitors of the papain-like protease of the virus which were tested using various infected cells. To validate these findings, the compounds are under further analysis using transcriptomic studies and investigating their effect on innate immune system.
These important findings form the foundation for the development of novel treatments for COVID-19 infections.