UNH FInds Repurposed Drug Could Inhibit Enzyme used in COVID-19 Replication

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have recently found that an existing drug compound could be successfully repurposed and used to block the activity of an enzyme of the coronavirus. 

“The goal was to slow or prevent the spread of the virus by using a strategic therapeutic that could possibly disrupt key steps in the viral life cycle at the molecular level, like the first contact with a healthy cell or the first step in replicating within an infected cell,” said Harish Vashisth, associate professor of chemical engineering.

They published their first-of-its-kind study in the journal PROTEINS: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. The researchers targeted this key enzyme, the main protease enzyme Mpro, which has become a primary target of intense research and therapeutic development due to its role in the virus’s replication.

They explored the inhibiting properties of a derivative of the existing compound – Thiadiazolidinones (TDZD). TDZD is already being studied as a potential treatment of neurological disorders like Parkinson’ Disease. Using molecular dynamics simulations combined with laboratory experiments, the researchers determined that the TDZD compound was able to inhibit the Mpro enzyme. Preventing the enzyme for working could prevent the virus’s ability to develop defenses at the cellular level.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R35GM138217, P20GM113131, and the National Science Foundation under award number OIA-1757371. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders.

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