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Cardiff University technology facilitates the discovery of a possible treatment for devastating infections

5 July 2017

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A ProTide drug shows promising antiviral activities against many viruses that cause devastating diseases

A drug discovery technology, pioneered at the Cardiff School of Pharmacy, inspired the discovery of an experimental drug that has shown great promise in treating serious infections like Ebola, MERS and SARS.

The late Prof. Chris McGuigan, at the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, invented a drug discovery technology known as the ProTide technology, which improves the drug like properties of a class of molecules known as nucleotides. This technology has been widely used in the discovery of a series of antiviral and anticancer clinical agents.

The US biopharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, Inc. adopted such technology in the discovery of a series of antiviral drugs. Their latest compound, GS-5734, a ProTide, was reported in 2016 to show very potent activity against Ebola. Critically, GS-5734 was found to have broad antiviral activity as it possessed significant antiviral activity against many viruses beyond Ebola.

A recent report (in Science Translational Medicine) indicated that this ProTide, GS-5734, exhibited impressive in vivo activity against SARS and MERS, two infections that can jump from animal reservoirs to humans with devastating consequences. Crucially, the broad-spectrum antiviral activity of GS-5734 suggests that it will be useful in the prevention and treatment of these serious infections and probably similar ones should an outbreak of these infections take a place in the future.

Notably, the ProTide technology has already inspired the discovery of two clinically used antiviral drugs Sofosbuvir and Tenofovir alafenamide, which are used to treat hepatitis C and HIV/hepatitis B, respectively. Beyond treating viral infections, it is worth noting that there are some ProTides currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of various cancers.  For more information, click here and here.

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