Dr Aitor Casas-Sanchez was awarded the Director’s Catalyst Fund to investigate the sugars present on viral surface proteins as potential targets for therapy to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the current COVID-19 pandemic. This work will be done in collaboration with Dr Grant Hughes, Dr Alvaro Acosta Serrano and Dr Ian Patterson.
Dr Casas-Sanchez will study the role of the sugar units, called N-glycans, attached to viral surface proteins. These viral surface proteins are known to control viral entry into host cells, a crucial step in viral replication in the host, and their sugars have an important role in modulating the host immune response, and the efficacy of drugs and vaccines. Dr Casas-Sanchez aims to explore whether the attached sugar units can be a potential target for new and more effective treatments against COVID-19, vital in order to quickly control the current pandemic.