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BioFulcrum Viral and Infectious Disease Research Program

So far, antiviral drugs have been developed to target specific proteins produced by pathogens. This “one bug, one drug” approach can be highly effective initially, but the stupendous rate of replication and mutation of viral genomes can quickly lead to resistance. The same is true for antimicrobial drugs targeting bacteria, where we battle increased resistance to available antibiotics.

Launched in 2017, this second BioFulcrum research program takes an entirely different approach by identifying human host proteins. These proteins interact physically with viral and bacterial gene products in ways that are essential for microbial pathogenesis, and thus may serve as targets for the development of new classes of anti- viral/bacterial therapeutics.

The program builds upon solid prior research that used leading-edge technologies to define host-pathogen protein interactomes. The research will also include further experiments to complete an atlas for additional pathogens, and will identify valid drug targets from among thousands of candidate host proteins. It will focus on targets that are important for pathogenesis of multiple pathogens (“one drug stops several bugs”), that can be drugged without toxic effects on the host, and that remain essential for pathogenesis despite pathogen evolution.

Program Objectives

  • Create a comprehensive map of the genetic and protein networks underlying infectious diseases
  • Uncover host molecular pathways commonly hijacked by pathogens to reveal basic biological mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets
  • Develop new technologies that use a single small molecule or drug to target multiple pathogens

Scientific Partners

Melanie Ott, Gladstone Institutes

Nevan Krogan, Gladstone Institutes, UC San Francisco

Jennifer Doudna, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco

Alex Marson, UC San Francisco

Jeff Cox, UC Berkeley

Jamie Cate, UC Berkeley