Viral infections are a major course of disease worldwide. Licensed antiviral drugs are currently only available for a few viruses, such as HIV, influenza and hepatitis C. Through a multi-disciplinary, inter-sectoral training programme, the ANTIVIRALS project is training a new generation of experts to develop novel antiviral drugs
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Antiviral drug developers of the future require expertise in molecular virology, biochemistry, structural biology, computer-aided drug design and medicinal chemistry. Few, if any European universities or research institutes have the broad know-how needed to offer such a comprehensive training programme. The result is a lack of scientists qualified to take antiviral drug development further.
ANTIVIRALS is providing early stage researchers with state-of-the-art scientific and technological knowledge in each of relevant disciplines through network-wide training courses and workshops. Expertise will be further developed during individual research projects, which will address viruses such as enteroviruses, dengue, chikungunya and the respiratory syncytial virus, and will be partly carried out outside of the researcher’s host university.
The network also includes five industrial partners, ensuring that the 15 recruits experience the private sector as well as academia. The companies will help each individual to develop an idea from their own research project for commercialisation.
In addition to the training, the ANTIVIRALS project also has ambitious research objectives: to identify, design and characterise novel inhibitors for six virus types, and to develop them into lead candidates for antiviral therapy.