Mark Heise, PhD (Professor, Department of Genetics) was awarded $2M by the NC Collaboratory, a research program funded by an appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly that aims to foster and strengthen partnerships between businesses and academic research groups to transform applied research and innovation into technological solutions for the benefit of public health and the economy in the state.
Dr. Heise’s project involves a partnership with Chimerix Inc. and will optimize a new anti-viral drug, CMX521, for oral administration to treat COVID-19. CMX521 is well-tolerated in humans and has been shown to potently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in human airway cells and prevents and treats viral disease in small animal models. Dr. Heise’s lab will test CMX521 modifications and formulations for antiviral activity and measure their ability to prevent and treat viral disease in animal models of COVID-19. Optimizing an oral dose would provide a convenient and stable antiviral therapy that could be easily prescribed on an out-patient basis, overcoming challenges with current therapies.