Promising New Drug Compounds Identified to Potentially Treat Viruses Like COVID-19, Flu & Ebola

UMB18 Anti-Viral Compound

The compound UMB18 (multi-color) binds to the 3D structure of SKI protein complex shown in silver. Credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Research Could Accelerate Efforts to Develop New Anti-Viral Drugs to Fight Flu, Ebola, and Novel Coronaviruses like COVID-19.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) have discovered new drug compounds to potentially treat the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The compounds disrupt the functioning of a protein complex inside human cells that the researchers discovered is critical for the replication and survival of coronaviruses. This finding could lead to the development of new broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that target viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and coronaviruses, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.  

The protein complex, called SKI complex, is a group of human proteins that regulates various aspects of the normal functioning of a cell. In the new study, the researchers discovered that this complex also plays a crucial role in helping a virus replicate its genetic material, called RNA, within the cells it infects.

“We determined that disrupting the SKI complex keeps the virus from copying itself, which essentially destroys it,” said study corresponding author Matthew Frieman, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UMSOM. “We also identified compounds that targeted the SKI complex, not only inhibiting coronaviruses but also influenza viruses and filoviruses, such as the one that causes Ebola.”

He and his colleagues from the School of Pharmacy’s Computer-Aided Drug Design Center and the Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics at the UMSOM used computer modeling to identify a binding site on the SKI complex and identified chemical compounds that could bind to this site. Subsequent experimental analysis showed these compounds to have antiviral activity against coronaviruses, influenza viruses, and filoviruses (such as Ebola). Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also participated in this study.

The study was funded by Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, MD.

“These findings present an important first step in identifying potential new antivirals that could be used to treat a broad number of deadly infectious diseases,” said study lead author Stuart Weston, PhD, a research fellow at the UMSOM. Such drugs have the potential to treat infectious disease associated with future pandemics. Next steps include conducting animal studies to learn more about the safety and efficacy of these experimental compounds, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In other research efforts funded by the federal government, Dr. Frieman and his team are rapidly testing hundreds of drugs, approved and marketed for other conditions, to see whether any can be repurposed to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“As we face a potentially long, hard winter with COVID-19, our researchers continue their sustained efforts to advance innovations,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Basic research remains a vital part of this effort to leave us prepared for the next global pandemic.”

Reference: “The SKI complex is a broad-spectrum, host-directed antiviral drug target for coronaviruses, influenza, and filoviruses” by Stuart Weston, Lauren Baracco, Chloe Keller, Krystal Matthews, Marisa E. McGrath, James Logue, Janie Liang, Julie Dyall, Michael R. Holbrook, Lisa E. Hensley, Peter B. Jahrling, Wenbo Yu, Alexander D. MacKerell Jr, and Matthew B. Frieman, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2012939117

5 Comments on "Promising New Drug Compounds Identified to Potentially Treat Viruses Like COVID-19, Flu & Ebola"

  1. Sekar Vedaraman | November 15, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    Hi All:

    Just Got up after a couple of hours sleep. Maybe a litlle bleary eyed. So forgive the errors.
    Have been worried about the increasing rate of extinction of the 240 mammalian species, as well as well as ALL of gods creatures since the article of August 23 , 2020. ( Read last night before going to sleep).
    So even without brushing my teeth, I am sharing this, given to me as a gift to humanity by the Mother. (Mother Natue. Mother Earth. whatever your chosen methodology to figure out human existence). Read Carefully.

    4 amino acis in the Human Genome. 8 if you include the racemic variety.
    Similarly as the Genome Strucure of all mammals have been mapped using “snail mail” tools. Wondering if humanity cannot invent a tool on steriods, to map more complex of Gods creatures? For remaining healthy , Humans Need about 21 to 22 Amino Acids. Some essential and others non-essential.
    Imagining the invention of a tool which is non-invasivean AND can identify the nucleotide structure of the bio-organism rapidly , consisting of the familiar polymeric structure of the nucleotides, composed of a few handful(in the case of C-19), to billions of such nucleotides linked in polymeric structures of great complexity for humans (realy ! Read the end of this message!!), simply based on the characteristics of each Amino acid base and its surrounding appendages.

    Similarly for all Sugars and sugar-like structures which provides the taste buds with the sense pleasure (one among the five gross sense pleasures we crave for) AND which all creatures including Ant are attacted to, where D is dominant variety and L is rare. Sweetners which behave like D may be fine when ingested. However , Sweetners which behave like the less prevalent L variety may put us in “La La Land” and may cause illness and Death.Sugars are the essential providers of energy for the cell, and blood caries the same to the cells.

    The other component of the Virus C-19 is the accompanying Lipid which may act as the lubricant, (as most lipids normally do) to do facilitate entry into the Human Cell and having found a friendly host and conducive environment, these lifeless chemicals and chemical polymers , take on a life of their own AND ensure rapid replication of the unfriendly virus, pathogen , bacteria. and cause disease and damage to the organ to fail. These organs which enables the complex organism to function and surviveare impaired or destroyed.

    Still umable to figure ot the role of of phosphatic appendages of the Virus C-19 and its role.

    Gift on the festival of Deepavali to humanity. May the Light of Wisdom light up the lives of all of Gods Creatures icludeing the divine beings who guide our destinies and future.

    The path of Knowledge is the most difficult of all four paths shown to us by the Lord.
    GOD Bless.

    P.S. Have not read the C-19 Post above. Will read later. After I brush my teeth and complete my prayers .

  2. Sekar Vedaraman | November 15, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Reply

    Very Interesting.

    I once again reiterate that a Good Doctor tries to prevent Disease rather than cure it after infection —and the gaol has been scored by the opponents! The entry of harmful viruses, pathogens and bacteria should be minimized as far as possible.

    Most of the entry happens through what we ingest and connsume, to provide energy and building blocks , required by the cells of the human body —which is provided by the sugars and oter substances like Protiens to satisfy our five gross senses and efficient functioning of the Human ecosystem..

    Even finding a braod specturm of antiviral drugs , is not addressing the root cause of the Problem. ( Thank You Demmming — one of my many Gurus!).

    Unless, we want to continue the endless cycle of infecting and curing the illnesses and pharmacompanies want to make a profit from the misery of the humans who are completely helpless and unable to manage a Virus of around 28 K to 30 K Nucleotides! There is no Guarantee that the next virus will be visible with the current tools we have developed and we can get a cure! It may not even be visible to the sight sense. Invisibility is a distinct possibility.

    Think carefully about the risks versus benefits of whatever you choose to consume or ingest. This is probably because our immunity declines with age, and we end up consuming more pills than actual food in old age! Or avoid consuming foods that may aggravate the symptoms / condition. Whatever our lifetime may be , I suspect most of us wouuld choose it is healthy and bountiful and Joyful

    So here is wishing all readers once again success in this affort to address this and future pandemics. I understand that the Bat is waiting in the wings with 3,000 plus. Every other Non-Human Ecosystem web do ot really know how many deadly viruses , bacteria and pathogens they carry ) cannot be killed indiscriminately to killed off like the poor minks wh got it from the HUMANS AND STARTED RETURING IT AFTER MODIFICATION.

    We aresearching the universe to determine if we are own alone. If we have to kill all other creations of God on our planet to survive , rest assured , we may indded be alone.

    I am reaaly keen on understanding how the lad in Pakistan had developed the ability to get his energy needs fulfilled from solar rayy ( like ET in the Hollywood!) — probably a modified photosynthesis gene is my guess. Interesting times we live in .

  3. Sekar Vedaraman | November 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Reply

    Sorry about the spelling erors.

    I ma sure readers can guess what they are. Written at Wrap Spped. My apologies.

  4. Horace P. McTitties | November 15, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Reply

    Dude, why would you comment (and I use the term very loosely) on an article before brushing your teeth, completing your prayers or taking the time to even read it?

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