Antivirals active against henipaviruses will be an important component of a pandemic preparedness strategy. In the project “Identifying diverse chemotypes that target henipavirus replication and assembly” a novel 2-stage cell-based high throughput screening assay will be developed to identify post-replication inhibitors of henipavirus replication using cedar virus as a surrogate for highly pathogenic henipaviruses. Inhibitor compounds will be optimized through medicinal chemistry to improve potency, selectivity and incorporate drug-like properties. Inhibitor compounds will be evaluated for antiviral activity against pathogenic henipaviruses and other paramyxoviruses to identify compounds with broad spectrum antiviral activity. Counter screens using cell-based assays with viruses from other virus families will be used to assess compound selectivity. These studies will identify late lead compounds that can be further developed into antiviral medicines. The 3-year project was initiated in late 2022 and is hosted by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, USA and the principal investigator is Professor Benhur Lee.
Picture above (provided by Benhur Lee) shows a staining of intracellular trafficking (green) of NiV-Matrix (in nucleus/nucleoli) and in cytoplasm and plasma membrane