The Biochemical Journal has published new research that identifies a range of potential antivirals, which could be developed into new treatments for COVID-19 or future coronavirus outbreaks.

Along with colleagues at the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Dundee, John Diffley, lead author of the papers and associate research director and head of the Chromosome Replication Laboratory at the Crick, re-tooled their laboratories to identify new small molecule inhibitors of the enzymes required for SARS-CoV-2 replication. They focused on pre-existing pharmaceuticals in the hope that the inhibitors identified could be deployed rapidly in the response to COVID-19. This collection of original papers presents the findings for seven SARS-CoV-2 enzymes and describes several drug candidates that will serve as important starting points for further development and/or tool compounds for studies of the vagaries of this virus.

Professor Mark Lemmon, Chair of the Editorial Board for the Biochemical Journal, commented: “While efforts to develop vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 were initiated at record speed, the groups at the Crick and Dundee University focused on unique aspects of the virus’ biochemistry to develop another key part of the armoury in our fight against the pandemic. The virus has to get into cells, of course, in order to be replicated and mount an infection. Once in, replication involves a very precise set of nucleic acid and protein modifications, among which one can find a weakness for most viruses. Staring into the core of the biochemistry of SARS-CoV-2, John Diffley and colleagues have developed a rich set of leads to stop the virus in its tracks. As Chair of the Editorial Board, I’m truly delighted to see the Biochemical Journal publish this important set of 21st-century biochemistry papers, which will greatly advance our ability to attack this and other pathogenic viruses.”

Read the full press release from the Crick for more information on the nature of these experiments as well as comment from the lead author. You can also read the full open access collection on our journal website, including a succinct overview of the findings and their implications in the battle against the pandemic via Ron Hay’s commentary .

Read the open access collection in full

Published by Portland Press , the Biochemical Society’s wholly-owned publishing arm, the Biochemical Journal forms part of a portfolio of seven journals that return all profits to the life science community in support of the Society’s charitable objectives.