Advances in Chemical Biology

Tutorial „mRNA vaccines and SM approaches against SARS CoV2“

Tuesday, 24 January 2023, from 9:00 - 11:30 am

Referent: Dr. Kurt Ritter (University of Tübingen*)

Title: mRNA vaccines and Small Molecule Approaches in the Fight against SARS-CoV-2 infection

The tutorial will provide an insight into the development of mRNA vaccines against the spike protein of SARS-CoV2 and of small molecules interfering directly with viral proteins.

After a short introduction to the genome, life cycle and current variants of SARS-CoV2, the first part illustrates the development of mRNA-based therapeutics using Comirnaty® as a representative example.
A typical structure of a mRNA vaccine, its encapsulation in lipid nanoparticles and the advantage of incorporating modified nucleotides into the mRNA such as Me-pseudouridine will be discussed.

The second part of the tutorial will elaborate on the different approaches to small molecules targeting viral proteins. Drug repurposing led to the identification of small molecules interfering with the viral RNA polymerase in different ways such as Molnupiravir or Remdesivir.
Inhibitors of the viral cysteine protease MPro block the processing of polyproteins produced by translation of the viral RNA, an essential step in the viral replication. Orally reversible covalent MPro inhibitor Nirmatrelvir, approved with booster Ritonavir as Paxlovid®, has shown high efficacy in infected patients. Furthermore, additional covalent and non-covalent MPro inhibitors i.e. Ensitrelvir have reached the clinical phase.

The number of participants is restricted to 30 on a first-come, first-served basis. Registered participants will receive a print-out of the tutorial.

*Kurt Ritter has spent over 30 years in pharmaceutical industry in Germany and USA and is currently lecturer for medicinal chemistry at the University of Tübingen after his retirement from industry.



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