Antiviral drug discovery: preparing for the next pandemic

Catherine S Adamson, Kelly Chibale, Rebecca J M Goss, Marcel Jaspars, David J Newman, Rosemary A Dorrington* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)
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Clinically approved antiviral drugs are currently available for only 10 of the more than 220 viruses known to infect humans. The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has exposed the critical need for compounds that can be rapidly mobilised for the treatment of re-emerging or emerging viral diseases, while vaccine development is underway. We review the current status of antiviral therapies focusing on RNA viruses, highlighting strategies for antiviral drug discovery and discuss the challenges, solutions and options to accelerate drug discovery efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3647-3655
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number6
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors also gratefully acknowledge financial support from the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) with funds received from the South African National Department of Health and the UK Government's Newton Fund (R. A. D., RL. M. G., K. C.), the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EQATA (R. J. M. G.), the UK Global Challenge Research Fund (R. J. M. G., R. A. D.), the University of Cape Town (K. C.) and the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Innovation, administered through the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) to K. C. (UID: 64767) and R. A. D. (UID: 87583). C. S. A. acknowledges financial support for SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 research from UKMRC (CVG-1725-2020) and UKRI-DHSC (MR/Vo28464/1). The authors acknowledge Bronwyn Tweedie of the Rhodes University Print Services Unit who provided the graphics for Fig. 1 and thank Gordon Cragg for his insightful comments and encouragement during the preparation of this manuscript.

Erratum: Antiviral drug discovery: Preparing for the next pandemic (Chem. Soc. Rev.( 2021) 50 (3647–3655) DOI: 10.1039/D0CS01118E)


  • Antiviral Agents/chemistry
  • Biological Products/chemistry
  • COVID-19/drug therapy
  • Coronavirus Protease Inhibitors/chemistry
  • Drug Discovery/methods
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy/methods
  • Nucleic Acid Synthesis Inhibitors/chemistry
  • Pandemics/prevention & control
  • RNA, Viral/antagonists & inhibitors
  • SARS-CoV-2/chemistry
  • Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry


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