Crowdsourcing SARS-CoV-2 anti-virals
In February 2020, soon after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diamond Light Source (Instruct Centre UK, Frank von Delft, Martin Walsh) and the Israel Structural Proteomics Center at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Instruct Centre IL, Nir London) initiated a joint effort to identify starting points for SARS-CoV-2 anti-virals.
The team performed a large-scale screen of electrophile and non-covalent fragments through a combined mass spectrometry (ISPC) and X-ray (Diamond) approach against the SARS-CoV-2 main protease. This resulted in more than 71 co-crystal structures that span the entire active site, which were immediately released to the public. This effort sparked the COVID-Moonshot, a multinational consortium aiming to bring a cheap and safe SARS-CoV-2 anti-viral to market, via open-science and crowdsourcing approaches. Based on this preliminary data, the team have compounds with sub-uM activity in vitro and anti-viral activity in cells, which are being optimised for pre-clinical development.
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