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Screening for anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of marine extracts from Hawaii 

Project Summary: The objective of this proposed research is to identify compounds that are effective against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) as starting points for developing new drugs against COVID-19. The ongoing outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has spread worldwide and precipitated into a global pandemic leading to severe health and economic burdens. Although, significant advances including approval of several vaccines have been made in preventing severe COVID-19, global vaccine coverage is far below what is needed to reach herd immunity, and breakthrough infections in vaccinated people with comorbid conditions can be serious. A few repurposed drugs have emerged as lead anti-SARS-CoV-2 candidates, although each have weaknesses.  In order find more effective COVID-19 drugs, we propose to screen natural product compound libraries derived from marine organisms in Hawaii.  The HPU Natural Product Library is composed of ~1,500 extracts from Hawaiian marine cyanobacteria, algae, and invertebrates, and cultures of marine-derived fungi and bacteria. We hypothesize that our HPU Natural Product Library will provide a valuable resource to screen for anti-SARS-CoV-2 compounds that can be further characterized and advanced to novel therapeutics development. This collaborative proposal combines the expertise of multidisciplinary research team in the fields of natural products chemistry, bioassay design, and virus pathogenesis to (i) identify novel extracts with anti-SARS activity, (ii) provide high impact undergraduate student research engagement, and (iii) support submission of a R15 AREA grant to advance the characterization of potent anti-viral compounds and to test them in animal models for protection against SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses.

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