Stanford University – Priscilla Yang

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of USD 2,508,457 to support early development of Henipavirus antivirals.

The world lacks vaccines and antivirals to combat Nipah and Hendra viruses, members of the Henipavirus genus with high fatality rates and pandemic potential. Efforts to develop drugs analogous to those that cure hepatitis C virus and allow long-term control over the human immunodeficiency virus have not yet yielded success. In the project “Pilot studies to develop small molecule inhibitors and degraders targeting Henipaviruses” the principal investigator Priscilla L. Yang has assembled an excellent team consisting of Nathanael Gray Stanford University, Jianwei Che Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Sean P. J. Whelan Washington University in St. Louis, Hector Aguilar-Carreno Cornell University, and Anne Moscona Columbia University. In their project they aim to develop small molecule antivirals with broad-spectrum activity against Henipaviruses by (1) irreversibly inactivating the viral polymerase, L, which copies the viral genome, (2) blocking the function of the F protein, a protein on the virion surface required for infection and for production of progeny viruses; and eventually (3) by inducing degradation of the L or F proteins, irreversibly removing them from the cell so that the virus cannot propagate itself. In addition to addressing the large, unmet need for Henipavirus drugs, the work will develop and utilize innovative approaches that may be useful in developing antiviral drugs against other viruses. The project is hosted at Stanford University, USA and will commence in April 2023 and run for 3 years.

Picture above from top left to right then bottom: Anne Moscona, Sean P. J. Whelan, Nathanael Gray, Jianwei Che, Hector Aguilar-Carreno, and Priscilla L. Yang.