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Towards Novel Approaches to Antiviral Therapy

Seed Grants
Awarded in 2012

Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 6 - 2012

Shirit Einav, Medicine
Stephen Quake, Bioengineering

There is an urgent need for novel strategies to combat viral infections. The prevailing antiviral approach relies on targeting viral functions and is limited by a narrow spectrum of coverage and rapid emergence of viral resistance. Our overall goal is to transform this paradigm by focusing on better understanding host pathways conservatively required by a range of viruses and translating this knowledge into novel antiviral strategies, that will: 1) provide broad spectrum antiviral coverage; and 2) decrease emergence of resistance. This proposal will focus on one of the major current threats to global health: co-infection with Hepatitis C (HCV), a major cause of liver disease and liver cancer and HIV. HIV leads to HCV persistence, relapse, and treatment failure. Treatment requires a combination of two drug cocktails, which results in significant drug-drug interactions. The goal of this proposal is to identify host partners shared by HCV and HIV on a large scale and facilitate discovery of novel inhibitors that target these overlapping mechanisms. This interdisciplinary work will shed light on unexplored mechanisms of viral co-infections, will further novel proteomic technologies that we have been developing, and may improve human health.