NIAID uses $577 million to establish nine pathogen antiviral drug development centers

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With grants totaling approximately $577 million, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is working to establish nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for pathogens of concern in pandemic, working to develop innovative medicines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new antiviral drugs, especially those that could easily be taken by patients at home while their symptoms are still mild,” said NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. “Decades of prior research into the structure and vulnerabilities of coronaviruses has dramatically accelerated our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that similar research focused on antivirals will better prepare us for the next pandemic.”

These centers will research and strengthen the early identification and validation of novel viral targets, particularly focused on the identification of small molecules and biotherapies capable of directly blocking viral targets. The research will be multidisciplinary and will include COVID-19 antivirals as well as other drugs targeting specific viral families with high potential to cause future pandemics. Paramyxoviruses, bunyaviruses, togaviruses, filoviruses – such as Ebola viruses and Marburg virus – picornaviruses – such as enteroviruses – and flaviviruses, including those that cause yellow fever, dengue and Zika, will be included.

Winners include:

  1. Center for Antiviral Drugs and Pandemic Preparedness at the Scripps Research Institute
  2. UTMB-Novartis Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
  3. Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative AViDD Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. Development of outpatient antiviral cocktails against SARS-CoV-2 and other potential pandemic RNA viruses at Stanford University School of Medicine
  5. Antiviral Countermeasures Development Center at Emory University and Georgia State University
  6. Metropolitan Antiviral Drug Accelerator at Hackensack University Medical Center
  7. QBI Coronavirus Research Group Pandemic Response Program at University of California San Francisco
  8. Midwest AViDD Center at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  9. Antiviral platform based on artificial intelligence, created by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative; Post to ; Sloan Kettering Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Promising drug candidates will be delivered to late-stage preclinical development once identified and evaluated for various properties, such as potency and reach. To facilitate this, each of these centers will be able to tap into the resources of industrial partners for their research, including their chemical libraries and expertise in the product development pipeline.

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