A UPV/EHU research group discovers new compounds that hinder infection by Covid19

The discovery, in which the French Institute of Health and Research and the biotech company Innoprot are participating, has been promoted by the Euskampus Campus of International Excellence

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First publication date: 10/09/2021

Iker Badiola

The research groups led, respectively, by Professor Iker Badiola of the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, and Dr Majid Khatib of INSERM at the University of Bordeaux (National French Institute of Health and Medical Research), have discovered several compounds that inhibit infection by SARS-CoV-2. This finding is the outcome of the collaborative consortium promoted by the Euskampus Campus of International Excellence; the INSERM-Paris Research Group, led by the researcher Bruno Villoutreix, and the Basque Biotechnology Enterprise Innoprot, have also participated in the consortium, which has identified therapeutic compounds targeting the infection and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Using bioinformatics tools, this consortium has identified around 1000 compounds whose effectiveness has been proven in combatting SARS-COV-2 in the laboratory; Sulconazole, an antifungal agent, has stood out and has been found to be the most effective, as well as four other substances, which are being studied further. The efficacy of this compound has been evaluated in vitro in cell models with satisfactory results, and inhibition rates of up to 85% have been achieved.

These groups began to work together in 2017 and the research was co-directed by two PhD students involved in studies on the incidence of proteases, known as proprotein convertases, in cancer; one of the main lines of work by the researcher Iker Badiola. What turned out to be crucial in prompting the researchers to explore this pathway was the discovery that one of the convertases that the group had been investigating in cancer (furin) is also involved in infection by SARS-CoV-2 when the spike protein is activated.

The research consortium has announced the publication of a research paper summarising these findings.

Sulconazole patent

In addition, the researchers have announced the patenting of a new use of Sulconazole and other compounds to combat infection by SARS-CoV-2; they have also initiated contacts with industry for the possible development and marketing of it. The consortium continues to work on the efficacy of another four furin inhibitor compounds that also proved to be highly efficacious against infection by SARS-CoV-2. 

For further information about the Patent:            https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2020127059