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Targeting the Most Common Viruses: Yields from a New Technology Platform
a new drug that could treat current and future variants of COVID-19
Similar efforts show promise against the flu,
Zika, West Nile, hepatitis and future threats
JERUSALEM, June 27, 2022 – ViroBlock, a start-up founded by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU), has developed a new drug platform to rapidly generate antiviral drugs that target proteins common to all viruses.
“Currently, there are no effective, validated platforms for rapidly generating antiviral drugs,” says Isaiah (Shy) Arkin, CEO and founder of ViroBlock, who is also a professor of biological chemistry at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Science. life. “Scientists must develop new agents and a personalized approach to target each new virus, without being able to predict how that virus will develop resistance. ViroBlock is working on a promising drug candidate for COVID-19 using an approach that can be duplicated with most other important viruses.”
ViroBlock’s new technology platform has demonstrated the potential to rapidly deliver solutions to address current and emerging viral threats, including COVID-19 and its variants, influenza, according to a new study conducted by research-based pharmaceutical company Evotec. , Zika, West Nile, and Hepatitis B. A study showed that the identified channel blockers could protect cells from virus-induced death while significantly reducing the amount of viral progeny.
ViroBlock’s antiviral drug candidates inhibit two targets in the virus: protein E (envelope) and protein 3a. Protein E is an ion channel, a type of protein family expressed by virtually all living cells that, due to its structure, has served as a frequent target for timely pharmaceutical interventions. For example, while the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 (the 2003 virus) are only about 75% identical, their E proteins are about 95% alike. This means that the ViroBlock drugs would likely remain effective even when the virus mutates.
“Using our proprietary technology, ViroBlock can identify targets in a new viral threat (or variant), develop inhibitors against it, and determine the resistance potential of the virus against the new drug, all at an unprecedented rate.” , says Arkin.
The next phase of clinical trials will test the effectiveness of this antiviral approach in humans. The company also has drugs in development produced by the currently tested platform that may be effective against other viruses.
ViroBlock was founded in 2020 by Yissum, the technology transfer company of Hebrew University.
About Yissum: Yissum is the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Founded in 1964, it serves as a bridge between cutting-edge academic research and a global community of entrepreneurs, investors and industries. Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting extraordinary innovations and transformational technologies into business solutions that address our most pressing global challenges. Yissum has filed more than 11,000 patents worldwide; has licensed over 1,140 technologies and established over 200 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Boston Scientific, ICL, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis and many more. For more information, visit www.yissum.co.il
About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading academic and research institution. Serving 24,000 students from 80 countries, it produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and ranks 12th in the world for biotechnology patent filings and business development. Hebrew University faculty and alumni have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal since 2000. For more information, visit https://en.huji.ac.il/en.
About American Friends of Hebrew University
American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) is a national non-profit organization based in the United States. AFHU is headquartered in New York City and has seven regional offices working closely with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. AFHU offers inspiring programs and events for supporters, Hebrew University alumni and the public, and organizes missions to Israel. The organization’s activities support academic and scientific achievement at HU, create scholarships, fund new facilities, and support the university’s efforts to recruit outstanding new faculty.
For more information visit www.afhu.org.
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