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Massive experimental, computational, and clinical studies have been performed worldwide, and are still ongoing, to understand and characterize Covid-19 molecular basis and transmission mechanisms, to develop diagnostics and vaccines, and to search for small chemical drug candidates and therapeutic proteins ...

Massive experimental, computational, and clinical studies have been performed worldwide, and are still ongoing, to understand and characterize Covid-19 molecular basis and transmission mechanisms, to develop diagnostics and vaccines, and to search for small chemical drug candidates and therapeutic proteins and peptides. Impressive results have been obtained for transmission control and vaccines so far, but what is the status of the other therapeutic options? The crisis has exposed different types of weaknesses in biomedical research in many countries. What can we learn from this crisis in the field of drug discovery and development so as to emerge stronger?

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed the strengths of modern drug discovery and vaccine development but also exposed different types of weaknesses that would need to be addressed to be better prepared for a possible next global health crisis. These challenges/weaknesses/obstacles are of very different nature and as such hard to tackle. For instance, in addition to the inherent challenging nature of the scientific discovery, some scientists have mentioned insufficient local/national coordination and observed a fragmented drug discovery research, others have underlined a lack of coordination between the academic system and the private sector, an inadequate international global coordination and cooperation, others highlighted insufficient infrastructures, inappropriate financial supports, limited discussions between the scientific community performing the research and the public health authorities, decision makers and the society, while some remarked insufficient education/training about drug discovery and development leading to confusion… The crisis also raised important scientific questions about the technologies that would need to be used during an emergency situation, combined, integrated, or developed so as to accelerate the identification of small molecule drug candidates and of therapeutic peptides/proteins.

The overall goals of this Research Topic are twofold: (a) discuss anti-Covid-19 chemical probes and drug candidates with a special emphasis on small molecules, peptides and proteins including antibodies and (b) encountered problems in your laboratory, institute, or country… to design/develop these molecules (or move them to the drug development path) as well as suggestions to improve the process at the local, national and/or international levels. This article collection also includes manuscripts describing initiatives that were helpful during the Covid-19 crisis, techniques/strategies utilized or developed in light of some of the above mentioned impediments. The articles reported in this special edition will thus inspire, inform and provide direction and guidance to researchers and public health authorities.

Specifically, topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel drug candidates, from small molecules to biologics and novel targets/pathways

  • Drug repurposing and drug combination

  • Main obstacles that impeded the rapid discovery of these molecules

  • The technologies/platforms/skills that have been helpful or developed and the ones that were missing or unavailable

  • The contribution of artificial intelligence, chemoinformatics, structural bioinformatics, the analysis of electronic health records, experimental and virtual screening, biophysical approaches, animal models including zebrafish studies, organ-on-a-chip… to the discovery or design of these compounds

  • Variants and strategies to tackle possible drug resistance

  • Translational aspects in the field of infectious diseases

  • The possible need of precision medicine to treat some Covid-19 patients

  • Covid clinical trial landscape, lessons learned and future plans

  • Long Covid, molecular mechanisms and potential treatments


The type of papers accepted in this topic: review, opinion, perspective, original research

Keywords: Drug discovery and development, small molecules, biologics, Covid-19, global health crisis, clinical trials


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