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10 Years at GSC (Genomic Sciences Center)

Identification of a novel lead compound for SARS antiviral drugs

The Protein Research Group in collaboration with Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), has discovered a novel lead compound ('seed' of a drug) for antiviral drugs to treat the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It is a remarkable success of computer-aided Structure-Based Drug Design (SBDD) with the three-dimensional structure of a SARS coronaviral protein (SARS-CoV 3CLpro).
  The recent outbreaks of SARS viral infections, mainly in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, have threatened human health and economics on infected regions and neighboring areas. The joint research started in September 2003 as part of the Protein 3000 Project in order to develop antiviral drugs for SARS applying SBDD strategy.
  The researchers at the protein research group have performed structure-based computational screenings (virtual screening, or in silico screening) of a database containing one million chemical compounds against the SARS-CoV 3CLpro for the purpose of discovering lead candidates of antiviral drugs. After the screenings, over 100 compounds were selected as leads. The Tokyo Medical and Dental University and NIID researchers then evaluated these compounds for their activities in inhibiting viral proliferation, using monkey cells infected with the SARS -CoV. One compound (code: RIKEN00046) exhibited high antiviral activity and low cytotoxicity.
  Animal studies will be performed for validating its clinical efficacy and safety. In addition, the research group plans to analyze the crystal structure of the SARS-CoV 3CLprocomplexed with RIKEN00046 to optimize the lead compound using SBDD methods.