Further bolstering the fight against Covid-19, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee have identified three anti-viral molecules that could effectively work as therapeutics against the contentious disease.
The anti-viral molecules have been identified through drug repurposing, computational and antiviral experimental studies, according to the researchers.
Several computational and experimental studies have taken place across the world to understand the atomic structures of the viral proteins that constitute SARS-COV-2, resulting in the availability of a ‘Protein Data Bank,’ a repository of the structures of proteins and viruses. This databank is used by researchers across the globe for drug discoveries.
IIT Roorkee researchers found the molecules in the course of their protein structure-based drug-repurposing research on SARS-CoV2 in an endeavour to discover new therapeutics.
The research team was led by Prof Shailly Tomar of the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and the research paper has been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Virology.
According to IIT Roorkee director Prof KK Pant, the research will help India better prepare for any future variant of coronavirus.
“Such research into the SARS-COV-2 virus is critical not only to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic but also to prepare for any new variants and future pandemics as well. This research can provide valuable inputs to the scientific community to understand such viruses and develop vaccines,” he said.
The research team focus on discovering molecules that acted on a specific part of the viral proteins called the nucleotide-binding pockets (NBPs). As the name suggests, the NBP binds to the nucleotides – the building blocks of RNA and DNA – and help in the replication of the virus.
NBP-targeting drugs are used for viral diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and herpes.
The team identified the six NBPs using the atomic structures available in the Protein Data Bank by using a novel approach of multi-targeting various virus-specific proteins using one drug, instead of targeting only one virus-specific protein, said Prof Tomar.
“This novel multi-targeting approach is expected to be therapeutically highly effective and is less likely to result in resistant variant strains,” he further said.
IIT Roorkee team, using a drug repurposing approach, discovered INCB28060, which is a cancer drug; Darglitazone, an anti-diabetic molecule; and Columbianadin, a natural phytochemical with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects – against the Covid-19 virus.
The research was supported by the Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas (IRHPA) program of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
“The antivirals that target multiple proteins that we have identified will direct the development of antiviral therapy against SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants,” said Prof Pravindra Kumar who heads the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at the institute.