READDI, the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative, has just received a big boost in accomplishing its mission of putting five antiviral drugs “on the shelf” ahead of future pandemics. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Wednesday that READDI will receive an award of $65 million over the next three years to establish the Initiative as an Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Center for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern. This award will fund research into coronaviruses, flaviviruses, and alphaviruses as well as infrastructure for READDI’s operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new antiviral drugs, especially those that could easily be taken by patients at home while their symptoms are still mild, ” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Decades of prior research on the structure and vulnerabilities of coronaviruses greatly accelerated our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that similar research focused on antivirals will better prepare us for the next pandemic.”
“At Carolina, we talk about practical applications of our research to improve society and the public good,” stated UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Faced with the threat of COVID-19, our world-class scientists did not back down.Their continued pursuit of solutions saved lives, and this recent award recognizes the profound impact of that work. I’m grateful for this funding and the continued support of the North Carolina General Assembly, which enables us to perform cutting-edge research and prepare for whatever might be next on the horizon.”
The AViDD centers will conduct research on the early-stage identification and validation of novel viral targets, with an eye to identify small molecules and biotherapeutics that directly block viral targets. As drug candidates are identified and evaluated for properties such as potency and breadth, the most promising will enter late-stage preclinical development. Importantly, the centers can draw on the resources of their industry partners to accelerate research, making use of the companies’ chemical libraries and expertise in moving candidates into the product development pipeline.
Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative is a global public-private partnership founded at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill by the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Eshelman Institute for Innovation and the Structural Genomics Consortium. READDI was created to generate new broad-spectrum antiviral therapies to save lives in the current COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent emerging viral threats from becoming global catastrophes.