Interview with Prof. Ulrike Protzer on her talk at the Covid-19 Lectures
"Antivirally effective drugs are in the development pipeline"
What antiviral therapies against Covid-19 are currently available - and how effective are they?
Unfortunately, there are only very few therapies against Covid-19 so far. One has to distinguish between two fundamentally different therapeutic approaches: On the one hand, therapies that suppress inflammatory reactions in the body; they aim to reduce so-called immunopathogenesis, such as cortisone or antibodies against the cytokine IL-6 - here, a certain effectiveness has been shown in clinical studies. On the other hand, there are therapies with a direct antiviral effect, which prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading. Unfortunately, there is not yet a drug that shows convincing efficacy in this area. But since these therapies have brought therapeutic breakthroughs in most viral diseases, it is very important to work on them.
In your view, how quickly is development progressing?
Directly antivirally effective drugs can only be developed if we understand the virus very well and know its essential enzymes, which we can "attack" as the Achilles' heel of the virus. To this end, Prof. Andreas Pichlmair's group has conducted what is probably the most comprehensive analysis worldwide to date. An alternative strategy is to use already known elements, such as the viral receptor, as an approach to antiviral therapy. That's what my group has done, developing a direct viral inhibitor, in collaboration with biochemists and medicinal chemists.
What will the future hold - and more importantly, when?
Unlike vaccine development, you can't simply start with genetic information here. In addition, research funding for vaccine development has also been significantly higher compared to antiviral drug development. A whole series of antivirally active drugs are now in the development pipeline, and we very much hope that we will soon be able to report successes similar to those in the development of vaccines.
Talk in German language
- Prof. Ulrike Protzer conducts research on the virus-host interaction of the hepatitis B virus at the Institute of Virology at TUM. Her work focuses on molecular and immunological understanding of viral control.
- Andreas Pichlmair, Professor of Viral Immunopathology, studies the interaction between viral patogens and their hosts. He mainly uses mass spectrometry and similar "large scale" techniques as a basis for system analyses.
- All talks of the Covid-19 Lectures
- The event will be hosted by Prof. Marion Kiechle