Faculty at UCI’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, have been working on innovative solutions to mitigate the detrimental effects of COVID-19. Professor John Chaput and his research team focus on developing drug discovery technologies. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, they leveraged their skills to develop a new type of synthetic antibody that can be used to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients.
According to Professor Chaput, “The synthetic antibody would function by blocking the interaction between the virus and its host cell receptor. This same interaction could also be used to create a rapid detection assay that recognizes the virus in patient samples.”
Most recently, Chaput Lab has successfully identified synthetic antibodies that recognize the S1 protein with binding profiles similar to conventional antibodies, “The next step is to identify the subset of synthetic antibodies that can prevent the virus from infecting human cells.” The work is ongoing, but preliminary data should be available in the next few weeks.”
This COVID-19 research will have significant pharmaceutical and societal implications. It will help establish a drug discovery pipeline that is better prepared to prevent local epidemics from developing into global pandemics. Furthermore, it could create a new line of drugs to treat prominent infectious diseases. “Synthetic antibodies have the potential to make an enormous impact on infectious diseases, like COVID-19,” says Professor Chaput, “the major benefit of synthetic antibodies over traditional antibodies is their production through chemical synthesis, which makes scalability less of a problem.”
Despite the challenges of working under difficult COVID-19 conditions, Professor Chaput and his lab are motivated by their desire to extend the boundaries of science, and develop innovative technologies with major societal impact. His students are inspired knowing that their research will contribute to making a positive difference in the world. Students working in these unprecedented times are gaining first-hand experience on the importance of each day when it comes to making progress on therapeutics for life-threatening diseases.
“COVID-19 has caused us to rethink the importance of establishing a drug discovery pipeline that can be rapidly deployed to combat unforseen threats,” says Professor Chaput, “the current situation is an important reminder that new innovative solutions are still needed to bolster the pace of drug discovery.” UCI’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences provides the resources and opportunities necessary for students and faculty to work toward accelerating scientific research and innovation.
To learn more about the Chaput Lab visit their website.
To learn more about UCI’s Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty who are conducting COVID research click here.
By: Nedda Bozorgmehri, UCI School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences