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15 April, 2020 - 11:32 By Kate Sweeney

Sosei eyes COVID-19 drug development

Sosei Group Corporation, which has substantial Cambridge operations, is to apply its unique structure-based drug design platform and capabilities to the global research efforts to discover drugs targeting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and to treat COVID-19.

The company has initiated a new R & D program to identify novel compounds that block the activity of the SARS-CoV-2 MPro protease (Nsp5), which has been designated as an important potential target for drug development. 

The Mpro protease cleaves a polyprotein encoded by the viral genome into 12 non-structural proteins (Nsp4-Nsp16) some of which play crucial roles in viral replication.

The company, whose European research powerhouse is based at Granta Park,  has created a multidisciplinary team spanning structural and biophysical analysis, computational chemistry and medicinal chemistry. 

The team brings a wealth of experience in SBDD and cutting-edge technologies that will be applied to the precision design of new inhibitor compounds against not only the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus but also against predicted future variants.

All findings from the program will be made freely available to the global research community investigating solutions to the COVID-19 crisis.

Sosei Heptares is looking to establish collaborations with industry partners to support this program and also to contribute its unique expertise to other areas under investigation as part of the global effort by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to find new treatments for COVID-19.

Malcolm Weir, executive vice-chairman of Sosei Heptares, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought together the biomedical R & D community like never before. 

“It has created a strong industry-wide effort to direct innovative and powerful technologies to develop diagnostics and therapies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, with the intention of controlling the current COVID-19 situation as well as potentially to prevent future epidemics and pandemics. 

“We are confident that Sosei Heptares can play an important part in these efforts and that our unique SBDD capabilities can make a difference as part of our new program and more broadly in collaboration with industry partners.”

The company has created a covid19 [at] contact address for companies and researchers who would like to discuss possible collaborations.

It stresses that there is no material impact to the company’s financial statements by investing in this important not-for-profit research initiative.

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