A five-year, $3.7-million grant supporting the research of a new COVID treatment has been issued to veterinary virologists at Kansas State University (K-State).
Bestowed by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the project aims to complete development of a drug for preclinical studies, which will ultimately lead to a COVID-specific antiviral therapeutic treatment. It is led by principal investigator, Kyeong-Ok “KC” Chang, DVM, MS, PhD, a virologist at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“There is currently an urgent and unmet need for the discovery and development of antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19,” he says.
Yunjeong Kim, DVM, PhD, ACVM, who is also a veterinary virologist at K-State, serves as co-principal investigator on the project, along with William C. Groutas, PhD, a medicinal chemist at Wichita State University; Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology from the University of Iowa; and Scott Lovell, PhD, a structural biologist at the University of Kansas.
“Recent advances of our efforts on the drug development include identification of potent compounds effective against SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by cell culture testing, X-ray co-crystallography, and an animal model,” Dr. Chang says.
The group has been working on antiviral drug development against both human and animal coronaviruses for more than a decade, focusing on protease inhibitors, K-State reports. Earlier this year, they published new findings on SARS-CoV-2 treatment options.
“Drs. Chang and Kim have over 30 years of collective experience investigating coronaviruses and other similar viruses,” says Derek Mosier, DVM, PhD, DACVP, department head of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in K-State’s CVM. “They have established a well-deserved international reputation for research excellence and discovery, so their recent success comes as no surprise. Their contributions to the research efforts of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Kansas State University are invaluable.”
The project is titled, “Small Molecule Inhibitors Against 3C-Like Protease of SARS-CoV-2.”