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VIZIER


Preparedness and capacity building for emerging epidemics

Comparative Structural Genomics on Viral Enzymes involved in Replication

EC contribution
: € 12 905 986
Duration
: 48 months
Starting date
: 01/11/2004
Instrument
: IP
Keywords
: RNA viruses, genomics, structural genomics, antiviral drugs, crystal structure, bioinformatics, protein production, high-throughput, screening
Project Number
: LSHG-CT-2004-511960
Web-site
: http://www.vizier-europe.org

Summary:

The VIZIER project aims to impact the antiviral drug-design field through the identification of potential new drug targets against RNA viruses and their use in a comprehensive structural characterisation of a diverse set of viruses. The common strategies used for the development of antiviral drugs are mainly based on the knowledge accumulated through studies of virus genetics and structure. The VIZIER project proposes to fill the existing gap between the necessary scientific characterisation of emerging viruses and preclinical drug evaluation.

Problem:

RNA viruses include more than 350 different major human pathogens and most of the aetiological agents of emerging diseases: viruses of gastroenteritis (more than 1 million deaths annually), measles (more than 45 million cases and 600 000 deaths annually), influenza (more than 100 million cases annually), dengue fever (approximately 300 million cases annually), enteroviruses and encephalitis (several million cases of meningitis annually), hepatitis C virus (more than 170 million infected people in the world).

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak has dramatically demonstrated how high the economic cost of an epidemic caused by an emerging virus could be. This negative impact is actually widening every day, as many governments are forced to make costly arrangements to cope with the threat of bio-terrorism, which lists some deadly RNA viruses in its arsenal. To meet these challenges, science needs to look for new therapeutic and prophylactic substances active against RNA viruses, since those currently available are scarce and of poor potency.

The common strategies used for the development of antiviral drugs are mainly based on the knowledge accumulated through studies of virus genetics and structure. Yet, it is a strange paradox that genomic and structural characterisation of RNA viruses was not accepted as a priority until very recently. The VIZIER project proposes to fill the existing gap between the necessary scientific characterisation of emerging viruses and preclinical drug evaluation.

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