Antiviral Therapies Research Group

The Antiviral Therapies Research Group, led by Dr Adi Idris, is interested in developing antiviral agent using RNA-based gene editing and silencing technologies, including:

RNA interference (RNAi)
CRISPR gene editing
Long antisense RNAs (asRNAs)

Our interest lies in generating these types of therapies against a range of viruses that causes disease in both humans and animals. Currently, we are focusing on targeting:
Respiratory viruses
Viruses that causes cancers
Veterinary viruses

Viral Disease the Antiviral Therapies Group work on:

Respiratory viruses
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV)
Influenza A

Veterinary Viruses
Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV)
Pseudorabies virus (PRV)
Mammalian reovirus (MRV)

Oncogenic viruses
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Epstein Barr virus (EBV)

Current focus at CIIC

Antivirals against respiratory viruses

There is a striking overall mortality burden of respiratory viral disease worldwide. A major issue with viral respiratory illness is that clinically it presents as a common set of symptoms and identification of the cause requires testing that delays treatment, if there is one. This results in increased morbidity and mortality as well as unnecessary hospitalisations. We propose to solve this issue by developing a self-administered universal antiviral nasal spray that treats the most common respiratory viruses at point-of-care, dispensing the need for hospital visits. As such we propose here to generate a novel molecular therapy that is specifically targeted to inhibit viral replication by gene silencing RNA interference (RNAi) technology to target multiple respiratory viruses in a single universal formulation, specifically SARS-CoV-2 , human metapneumovirus, influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus.
We will develop ultra-conserved chemically modified small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to ensure adaptability against newly emerging viral variants that can be delivered using various innovative nasal delivery approaches outlined in this application. As RNAi technology is modular and facile, our approach could be applied to any virus of concern in the future and can be deployed as a therapy to treat these viral infections using nasal delivery approaches that target both the nasal and respiratory epithelium suitable for outpatient use. The approach outlined in this application, if successful, will not only result in the ushering in of an entirely new cost-effective and rapidly deployable RNA platform technology and optimal intranasal delivery system, but also could deliver the first in class RNA drugs suitable for any new RNA respiratory viruses of concern. Importantly, an intranasal antiviral therapy that can ameliorate viral replication in the nasal cavity could effectively prevent aerosol spread of multiple respiratory viruses, hence curbing viral transmission.