Considering the breathtaking pace of HCV drug discovery in the last years, the HAI-IDR has focused on natural products or existing drugs as potential sources for new antivirals. Moreover, we are developing platforms and technologies that can later be also used to identify and characterize the activities of natural products or existing drugs against other infectious agents. Previous ongoing work on novel inhibitors of HCV infectivity was nonetheless continued, resulting in four patents.
The HAI-IDR has expertise on the purification and identification of biologically active natural compounds from soil microorganisms, the identification of novel antiviral molecules from these or other sources, and the identification and characterization of the targets and mechanisms of action of molecules with antiviral activities. To the core expertise on HCV and HBV, the HAI-IDR adds expertise on many other human pathogenic viruses, from some closely related to HCV, like Dengue virus, to others unrelated to them, such as respiratory-syncytial virus and influenza virus. The HAI-IDR also has expertise in in silico drug design and analysis. Models of protein structures are built and interaction candidates are identified using supercomputational approaches employing molecular dynamic simulations.
In the only two years lapsed since its inception, the HAI-IDR has made documented progress on identifying and characterizing the antiviral activities of a varity of natural products against HCV, as described below.