IIT Roorkee to conduct research for identifying antivirals to tackle COVID-19

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee will conduct research on the identification of antivirals to treat SARS-CoV2. This development comes after a proposal led by Prof. Pravindra Kumar has been given a go-ahead by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB). The study will identify small molecule inhibitors to target key viral replication enzymes- RNA dependent RNA polymerase (nsp12), viral proteases (Mpro and PL2pro, ) and the Methyltransferase or MTase (nsp14). These enzymes are virus-specific that are encoded with genetic material (RNA) of the viral pathogens. Virus-specific protease catalyzes the cleavage of specific peptide bonds in viral polyproteins. The study will be funded under the intensification of Research in High Priority areas (IRHPA) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

“The objective of the study is to identify antiviral molecules to combat COVID-19. It will expedite the process of identification of drugs through an in-silico approach that is based on computer-aided simulation of their molecular structures. I would like to thank the Science and Engineering Research Board for reposing faith in us” said Prof. Pravindra Kumar, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Roorkee.

The groundwork of the research has already been prepared by the completion of in silico work based on high throughput virtual screening approach to assess the binding affinity of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs targeting Mpro-a viral protease.

The study will leverage a computer-based high throughput virtual screening approach to identify antiviral molecules from various compound libraries that will be validated for antiviral potential. It will be conducted in collaboration with Prof. Shailly Tomar, Dept of Biotechnology, IIT Roorkee, and Dr. Gaurav Sharma from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar who will aid in the assessment of the antiviral efficacy of the identified molecule to treat SARS-CoV2.

 “This approach can be path-breaking in the identification of antiviral molecules to fight COVID-19” said Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee.