CHAPEL HILL — UNC-Chapel Hill scientists are determined that the country doesn’t live through another pandemic anytime soon.
Enter READDI (Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Discovery Initiative) — a drug discovery partnership launched by Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation.
Its aim: to raise $125 million to generate five new drugs with human safety and dosing data in five years to be ready for the next pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the world’s top researchers and drug discoverers to work together to invent new therapies,” said the SGC Chief Executive Officer Aled Edwards, in a statement. “We should have done this decades ago, but READDI has the potential to make sure we are never caught off-guard again.”
The SGC is driving a new scientific and drug discovery ecosystem by focusing explicitly on less well-studies areas of the human genome. The SGC has partnerships with nine global pharmaceutical companies and collaborations with scientists in hundreds of universities globally.
READDI is modeled after DNDi, a proven model for non-profit drug research and development. The science will focus on targeting cellular changes (kinase inhibitors) that block the replication of the virus, and concentrate on three viral families: coronavirus, flavivirus and alphavirus that cause the vast majority of epidemics and pandemics.
The group said it is actively discussing partnership with leading academic institutions including University of Washington and UCSF.
“Additionally, pharmaceutical partners have already made initial commitments of financial and in-kind resources,” it said on its website. “Our goal is to jumpstart antiviral drug development for rapidly emerging new viruses, even before the virus emerges.”