University of Pennsylvania – Sara Cherry

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a grant of USD 1,888,128 to support henipavirus antiviral R&D

Developing inhibitors of henipavirus replication will be an important component of a pandemic preparedness strategy. In the project “Defining drugs and genes active against henipaviruses” high throughput screening of small molecule compound libraries will be used to identify inhibitors of henipavirus infection using a cell-based assay of cedar virus replication as a surrogate for highly pathogenic human henipaviruses. Inhibitor compounds will be optimized through medicinal chemistry to improve potency, selectivity and drug-like characteristics. Promising hits will be evaluated for antiviral activity in cell-based assays of paramyxovirus replication to identify broadly active antiviral compounds. Host genes important for henipavirus replication will be identified through CRISPR knock out and RNAi screens using high throughput cell-based assays. Host genes identified could serve as targets for broad spectrum antiviral discovery. The project is hosted at University of Pennsylvania, USA, headed by Professor Sara Cherry. The funded research activities stated late in 2022 and the project will run for three years.