|With the world now reaching over 300 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the urgency to find a cure is ever present.
Al Jalila Foundation is dedicated to supporting the global fight against COVID-19 and has invested in several vital research studies. While vaccines tackled some challenges, with continuously-evolving variants it is necessary to develop new antiviral agents that can work in parallel with vaccines to put an end to the global crisis.
Professor Mohammad Ghattas, from Al Ain University is researching new drug candidates as potential treatments for COVID-19 via targeting the main protease enzyme (Mpro) of the virus. Inhibiting such an enzyme by a small drug molecule was proven efficient in stopping the high virulent capability of the virus, introducing Mpro as the most promising drug target in the COVID-19 therapy.
The research group has utilised advanced computational approaches to screen a huge ligand library of more than 3.8 million ligands. This was followed by experimentally testing 57 compounds for their inhibition activity against the viral enzyme; two of which have been able to show promising inhibition activity and drug-like character.
The findings in this project can provide a strong basis for developing clinically useful drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 and potentially provide an extra tool to end the current long-lasting pandemic.