Chemistry Professor at Freie Universität Berlin Rainer Haag Receives Prestigious Grant

- EN - DE
The activity of influenza A viruses is inhibited by biomimetic multivalent recep
The activity of influenza A viruses is inhibited by biomimetic multivalent receptor interactions. Image Credit: Freie Universität Berlin

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of 1,860,959 euros to support the development of new influenza virus blockers

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded an international research team led by Professor Rainer Haag 1,860,959 euros to support the development of precision glycol-oligomers as hetero-multivalent pandemic influenza virus blockers.

The influenza A virus (IAV) anchors to host cell surfaces with different surface proteins to initiate the infection cycle. These surface proteins are responsible for virus adhesion to host cells and the release of newly produced viruses. In this project the investigators will aim to mimic the host cells by using similar receptor molecules displayed on a multivalent scaffold but arranged with high precision to "trick" the virus and efficiently block infection. The project focuses on the precise design of affordable multivalent scaffolds that carry different virus-binding receptor molecules to block virus surface proteins and arrest the infection cycle. If successful, the resulting drug candidate will provide a new approach to target pandemic IAV strains, prevent resistance, and contribute to preparedness for future influenza pandemics.

The researchers behind the project complement each other’s expertise on multivalent scaffolds, nucleic acid technology, glycoconjugates, in vitro binding assays, and IAV in vivo models. The consortium consists of Rainer Haag and his research group at Freie Universität Berlin; collaborators Jørgen Kjems and Julián Valero Moreno and their research groups at Aarhus University, Denmark; Wendy Barclay and her research group at Imperial College of London, United Kingdom; and Sumati Bhatia and her research group at Swansea University, United Kingdom. The three-year project will commence in spring 2024.

The Latin words veritas, justitia, and libertas, which frame the seal of Freie Universität Berlin, stand for the values that have defined the academic ethos of Freie Universität since its founding in December 1948.