Swedish drug development company Medivir has partnered with SciLifeLab, a life science research firm, to identify compounds with the potential to inhibit SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

The research collaboration will involve SciLifeLab’s Drug Discovery and Development Platform (DDD), which will gain access to Medivir’s protease-targeted compound library.

As part of the collaboration, the partners will work to identify the main protease of SARS CoV-2, Mpro, an essential non-structural protein needed for virus replication.

DDD will analyse Medivir’s protease-targeted compound library to find putative inhibitors and assess active compounds as potential drug candidates.

The partners intend to release data for up to 100 top-inhibitors online and enable free availability for the development of drugs against Covid-19.

Medivir chief scientific officer Fredrik Öberg said: “We are very happy to be able to contribute some of our unique resources in the protease field to the collaborative effort addressing this important medical need together with the SciLifeLab DDD.”

The research project is led by Uppsala University associate professor Kristian Sandberg, who is co-director of SciLifeLab’s DDD Platform and principal investigator of the project Nevermore COVID.

Nevermore COVID is part of the nation-wide Covid-19 research programme at SciLifeLab, which focuses on pre-competitive, open science alliance at the research firm to find antivirals against SARS CoV-2.

SciLifeLab director Olli Kallioniemi said: “SciLifeLab has established a national Covid-19 research program together with universities across the country. One part of this programme involves the finding of novel inhibitors and drug-leads to block the virus and its effects in human cells.

“This new collaboration between Medivir and SciLifeLab DDD platform is an excellent example of public-private partnerships between industry and Swedish universities that could enrich and enhance this programme.”

SciLifeLab is jointly operated by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University and Uppsala University in Sweden.