Targeting host pathways to develop new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs

Targeting host pathways to develop new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs

Project details

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights how important it is to develop new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs. This goal can be realised by targeting common host biochemical pathways that are required by viruses for replication. I recently published a review outlining how this approach could be used to repurpose existing drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 (Williams & Goddard-Borger, Biochemical Society Transactions, 2020, doi:10.1042/BST20200505).

This chemistry project will focus on the development of new small molecules that have been optimised to shutdown host cell pathways that are required for the folding and trafficking of essential virus glycoproteins. These compounds will be evaluated against a number of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, in the institute’s high-containment facility. This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in medicinal chemistry.

About our research group

Many proteins are modified by diverse and complex glycan molecules, which modulate protein folding, trafficking, half-life and function. The Goddard-Borger Lab studies the role of these modifications, as well as the proteins that read, write and erase them, in diseases as diverse as malaria (Goddard-Borger and Boddey, Nature Communications, 2017,, COVID-19 (Williams & Goddard-Borger, Biochemical Society Transactions, 2020, doi:10.1042/BST20200505) and other respiratory diseases (Goddard-Borger, Nature Communications, 2020, doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16223-7). 

We use chemical, molecular and structural biology techniques to do this, which provides students an opportunity to gain practical skills in all of these fields with a high level of support from senior researchers. We collaborate extensively and welcome individuals who want to work as part of a diverse team to achieve significant research goals.


Email supervisors

The trimeric SARS-CoV-2 S protein (PDB ID: 6VYB) with the
dynamics of its glycans (yellow) simulated by MD (image provided by Dr Elisa Fadda).



Professor Marc Pellegrini

Professor Marc Pellegrini in the lab
Joint Division Head

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