High Throughput Screening Platform For Inhibitors of Viral Membrane Fusion (No. T4-2213)


Enveloped viruses pose significant health risks and lack effective treatments. Inhibiting viral membrane fusion, a crucial step in infection, holds promise for antiviral drug development. Dr. Ori Avinoam and his team developed a high throughput screening (HTS) platform to identify small molecule inhibitors of viral membrane fusion, starting with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, whose fusogenic domain is highly conserved. The platform can be extended to target other enveloped viruses.

Background and Unmet Need

Enveloped viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, Nipah virus, Hendra virus, HIV, and Ebola, pose significant threats to human health, yet effective treatments are limited. Membrane fusion plays a critical role in these viruses' ability to invade host cells, presenting an appealing target for antiviral interventions. Notably, the highly conserved fusogenic (S2) domain within the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 enables the fusion of the virus with host cells. This conserved domain serves as an attractive therapeutic target, offering the potential for developing broad-spectrum antivirals that extend their effectiveness to other viruses, such as Hendra and Nipah, which are among the most deadly emerging bat-borne viruses.

The Solution

Dr. Ori Avinoam and his team developed an HTS platform to identify small molecules that inhibit the membrane fusion of the SARS-CoV-2 and other enveloped viruses.

Technology Essence

The platform utilizes a recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) expressing the SARS-CoV-2 S protein and a green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a reporter gene. GFP expression is dependent on viral envelope fusion, enabling accurate detection of viral infection at the single-cell level.

Applications and Advantages
  • A robust and efficient platform for high-content screening of viral membrane fusion inhibitors
  • Discovery of novel antiviral drugs with a unique mechanism of action
  • High signal-to-noise ratio, single-cell resolution, and automated analysis options
  • Addressing present and future pandemics by developing broad-spectrum, universal viral inhibitors

Development Status

The team has completed screening ~200,000 compounds and identified novel small molecules that inhibit Bona fide SARS-CoV-2 infection. The current focus is on hit-to-lead optimization.

Prof Ori Porat Avinoam

Ori Porat Avinoam

Faculty of Biochemistry
Biomolecular Sciences
All projects (1)
Contact for more information

Dr. Elik Chapnik

Sr. Director of Business Development, Life Science

+972-8-9344374 Linkedin