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Accelerating drug development against emerging vector-borne viruses


From 01-06-2019 to 01-06-2023

Group and collaboration

Martijn van Hemert en Ed Kuijper, Leiden University Medical Center, Department Medical Microbiology, Virology

PhD student: Melissa Thaler, Leiden University Medical Center

Project description

Neglected and emerging viruses, many of which are transmitted by mosquitoes (arboviruses), have caused massive epidemics and severe disease outbreaks over the past decade. Antiviral drug development against these viruses is generally time and cost intensive because inhibitors that have been identified in cell‐based assays often fail to advance further into clinical development. This is not compatible with an emergency response to outbreak situations. The PhD project aims to accelerate advancement of antiviral compounds against existing and emerging arboviruses into further clinical development. I intend to do this by developing innovative approaches to aid in the steps that are between identification of a hit compound and the decision whether to initiate clinical trials with it or to halt further development. As we are currently experiencing a SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the need for fast antiviral drug development has become more important than ever and for now my focus has shifted to finding and characterising new antiviral drugs to combat SARS-CoV-2.

Vector-borne diseases is the overarching theme for more than 10 PhD tracks in NCOH projects to create new interdisciplinary, inter-thematic, and inter-institutional research collaborations.

PhD student interview

Interview: ‘As a virologist it is my duty to fight the coronavirus’

Shortly after starting her PhD research, the coronavirus pandemic hit and Melissa Thaler switched to coronavirus research. She is now trying to find a drug against this novel virus.