Video Library

Tackling SARS-CoV-2 Biochemistry

Video, Oct 05 2021

Biochemistry Focus Webinar Series

90 minutes

During this webinar the speakers described the biochemical screens used to identify inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 encoded enzymes. John Diffley provided an overview of the project; Jennifer Milligan described the screen for Nsp5/MPro inhibitors; Kang Wei Tan described the Nsp3/PLpro screen; Berta Canal described the Nsp14/10 and Nsp15 screens, and Rachel Ulferts described how she tested these inhibitors in viral growth assays.

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic launched a race to produce effective vaccines, several of which have now been rolled out with remarkable speed. Frequent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, however, serves as an important warning that this will be an ongoing battle. New generations of vaccines will be required, and effective antiviral compounds will be crucial tools in the armory against newly emerging virus variants. To meet this challenge during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, John Diffley and his colleagues (in the Francis Crick Institute and University of Dundee) 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 with the hope that the inhibitors they found could be deployed rapidly in the response to COVID-19.

This collection of original papers in the Biochemical Journal presented the findings for seven SARS-CoV-2 enzymes. The collection described 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.

Invited speakers:

  • John Diffley, Associate Research Director
  • Jennifer Milligan, PhD Student
  • Kang Wei Tan, Postdoctoral Training Fellow
  • Berta Canal, Postdoctoral Training Fellow
  • Rachel Ulferts, Postdoctoral Researcher

This webinar was held as part of Biology Week 2021 and was chaired by Professor Mark Lemmon, Chair of the Biochemical Journal.