Medicinal chemists in successful collaboration to block SARS-CoV-2 replication

2023-11-09

In November, an interdisciplinary research team – including Medicinal chemists Anja Sandström and Lindon Moodie – exited the SciLifeLab DDD Platform after two years of fruitful development of a compound with potential to block SARS-CoV-2 replication. “This is a great example of how collaborative efforts pay off” states Platform Co-Director Kristian Sandberg.

Successful Exit at the SciLifeLab DDD Platform
Successful Exit at the SciLifeLab DDD Platform

During the pandemic, Faculty of Pharmacy researchers Professor Anja Sandström, and Associate Professor Lindon Moodie teamed up with Jens Carlsson and Helena Danielson, Professors at Uppsala University’s Faculty of Medicine to identify new ways to block SARS-CoV-2 replication. Two years later their joint project exited the SciLifeLab Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) Platform, having signed an agreement with an international biotech company for further development of their drug candidate.

“The timing, the funding from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the joint focus – all these components were success factors. There was also a nerve and energy in the collaboration that was essential. Along  the way, we established important collaborations with international research institutes and the MAX IV Laboratory, and our progress really shows how fast research can move forward when everyone is aligned,” says Professor Jens Carlsson.

The project received support at SciLifeLab’s DDD Platform, presenting its first publication in February 2022. The research team focused on design and chemical synthesis of modified molecules, which the DDD platform helped evaluate through mechanism of action studies, ADME profiling, and pharmacokinetic profiling in vivo.

Kristian Sandberg, DDD Platform Co-Director
Kristian Sandberg, DDD Platform Co-Director

”In the Nevermore Covid project, our platform received a grant to support projects aiming to develop drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro). We set up the necessary screening assays for identification and lead generation of Mpro inhibitors. Eventually, the most promising hits were identified in collaboration with the research team. The project aimed to develop lead compounds with potential to reach clinical studies and ended up a great example of how collaborative efforts pay off” states Kristian Sandberg, DDD Platform Co-Director and Researcher at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has two essential proteases. The compound developed by the team inhibits one of those, thus inhibiting replication. The developed technology and methodology can quickly be adapted to future viral pandemic needs.

”This is a scientifically interesting project, and we can be sure that there will be an upcoming need for covid inhibiting substances. Now we have established an efficient strategy and competent team for future challenges”, concludes Helena Danielson.

Lindon Moodie and Anja Sandström, the Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Lindon Moodie and Anja Sandström, the Department of Medicinal Chemistry

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CONTACT

Kristian Sandberg, chefKristian Sandberg, Co-Director
SciLifeLab DDD Platform
Kristian.Sandberg@ilk.uu.se

Lindon Moodie, docentLindon Moodie, Associeate Professor
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Lindon.Moodie@ilk.uu.se

Anja Sandström, ProfessorAnja Sandström, Professor
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Anja.Sandstrom@ilk.uu.se

Text: SciLifeLab, Magnus Alsne, photo: SciLifeLab, Mikael Wallerstedt

News from the Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Last modified: 2022-11-10