Purdue University scientists are developing both oral medicines and vaccines to fight coronavirus and will be working to test their potential drug molecules on the new SARS-like Wuhan coronavirus, according to a university press release.

The investigational molecules block two of the coronavirus enzymes (proteases), stopping coronavirus from replicating, according to Purdue scientists Andrew Mesecar, Purdue’s Walther Professor in Cancer Structural Biology and head of the Department of Biochemistry, and Arun Ghosh, the Ian P. Rothwell Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

“The drug targets we’ve identified are over 95% identical to the enzyme targets we saw on the SARS virus,” Mesecar said.

“MERS virus and the SARS virus are more different genetically,” Mesecar said. “But the Wuhan virus is genetically almost identical to the SARS virus and, therefore, it is expected to look and act nearly the same.”

In identifying drug targets on the coronavirus, they take an anti-viral approach similar to what Ghosh used to develop the anti-HIV drug Darunavir, which is sold under the brand name Prezista.

The researchers cautioned that any investigational drugs will not be available quickly enough to help patients in the current outbreak but they hope any discoveries they make with the current virus will better mitigate future outbreaks.

Source: Purdue University