NIH awards $577m to antiviral drug developers

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/ERproductionslimited
Pic:getty/ERproductionslimited

Related tags: Nih, Drug development, Us

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health, has awarded a total of $577m to establish nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

While the centers will conduct multidisciplinary research for COVID-19 antiviral candidates (as especially those that can be taken in an outpatient setting), they will also look at antivirals for specific viral families with the potential to cause a future pandemic.

These include paramyxoviruses, bunyaviruses, togaviruses, filoviruses (including Ebola viruses and Marburg virus), picornaviruses (including enteroviruses and other cold-causing viruses), and flaviviruses (including the viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue and Zika).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new antiviral drugs, especially those that could easily be taken by patients at home while their symptoms are still mild, ”​ said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Decades of prior research on the structure and vulnerabilities of coronaviruses greatly accelerated our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that similar research focused on antivirals will better prepare us for the next pandemic.”

Research will focus on early-stage identification and validation of novel viral targets, with an eye to identify small molecules and biotherapeutics that directly block viral targets.

Based on properties such as potency and breadth, the most promising candidates will then be taken into late-stage pre-clinical development.

Industry partners will be involved to accelerate research, making use of their chemical libraries and know-how in moving candidates into the product development pipeline.

The AViDD award recipients are:

  • Center for Antiviral Medicines & Pandemic Preparedness
    Institute: Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
  • UTMB-Novartis Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness
    Institute: The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
  • Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative – AViDD Center
    Institute: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Development of Outpatient Antiviral Cocktails against SARS-CoV-2 and other Potential Pandemic RNA Viruses
    Institute: Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • Antiviral Countermeasures Development Center
    Institutes: Emory University and Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Metropolitan AntiViral Drug Accelerator
    Institute: Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey
  • QBI Coronavirus Research Group Pandemic Response Program
    Institute: University of California, San Francisco
  • Midwest AViDD Center
    Institute: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • AI-Driven Structure-Enabled Antiviral Platform
    Institutes: Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative; PostEra; Sloan Kettering Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

The awards are a part of the Antiviral Program for Pandemics (APP), an intensive research program designed to speed development of therapeutics for COVID-19​. APP is led by NIAID, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, all part of NIH; and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of HHS.

Related topics: Bio Developments

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