Roadmap: Latest Campus & Coronavirus Info | Scheduled System Maintenance Dec 2-10
Saturday, December 5, 2020

Researcher awarded grant for novel approach on COVID-19 drug

Researcher awarded grant for novel approach on COVID-19 drug

OCTOBER 22, 2020 — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple countries around the world, scientists are searching for solutions. UTSA’s Doug E. Frantz, the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, has received an award from the San Antonio Medical Foundation to support his collaborative work with UT Health San Antonio and SwRI on a novel approach for COVID-19 drug discovery.

The grant will help fund collaborative studies that combine virology, high-throughput screening, medicinal chemistry and in-silico drug design expertise.

There is currently not an effective treatment for SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Frantz and his collaborators have identified a strategy that can target the entry of enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, for therapeutic intervention.


“We will leverage the expertise of the entire collaborative team to discover and develop new antiviral drugs.”



The team’s research targets interactions between viral proteins and host cell proteins. They will exploit the established finding that a protein called clycoprotein-S expressed on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 directly binds to the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2) expressed on the surface of lung epithelial host cells. The interaction between the receptor binding domain and ACE2 is required for SAR-CoV-2 to enter cells.

“Through the generous support of the San Antonio Medical Foundation, we will leverage the expertise of the entire collaborative team to discover and develop new antiviral drugs that block SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on patients,” said Frantz.

Over the past decade undergraduate and graduate students in Frantz’s lab have designed and synthesized novel small molecular compounds. Frantz in April shipped samples of about 250 of those compounds to collaborators at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston for testing. Cells that were infected with SARS-CoV-2 were pretreated with the compounds designed at UTSA.

The compounds have chemical properties similar to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two immunosuppressive drugs that were previously used to treat and prevent malaria, that have shown promise in reducing effects of COVID-19 in lab studies.

“Our collaborative efforts with Dr. Patricia Aguilar at UTMB Health to repurpose compounds from my lab at UTSA continue to produce exciting results as new potential therapies for not only COVID-19 but other viral infections as well,” said Frantz. “We will be publishing our results shortly and plan to pursue additional funding from the NIH to continue this important collaborative work.”


Explore research from the Department of Chemistry at UTSA.
Learn more about the College of Sciences.

The typical drug development timeline, from initial research to animal testing to clinical trials to FDA approval, is five to eight years. 

“The San Antonio Medical Foundation has supported outstanding research endeavors aimed at advancing biomedical science in our local community for years,” Frantz said. “I am truly flattered to be a part of their mission through this award to develop lifesaving antiviral drugs for COVID-19 with our partners here in San Antonio.”

Lauren Moriarty



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


Events


Spotlight

Spotlight

utsa-sds_680.png
UTSA launches new cybersecurity institute to aid U.S. manufacturers

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.