UCD Covid-19 Response

The UCD Community is rising to the challenge posed by the global pandemic

Screening for antiviral compounds active against SARS-CoV-2

Lead Researcher: Dr Virginie Gautier

In collaboration with Professor Paddy Mallon

UCD School of MedicineUCD Centre for Experimental Pathogen Host Research (CEPHR)


Finding effective antiviral compounds for new therapeutic interventions could save lives, accelerate clinical improvement of Covid-19 patients and free critical hospital beds, or be given prophylactically to front line workers.

UCD has mobilised our resources and expertise in molecular virology, molecular diagnostics, translational research in infectious diseases, small drug screening strategy, clinical practice and clinical trial management to accelerate the development of antiviral treatments against SARS-CoV-2.


This new research programme, funded by the Health Research Board under the national Covid-19 Rapid Response call, is of two-fold:


First, the team will conduct high throughput drug screening for their capacity to inhibit viral replication in vitro using cell-based SARS-CoV-2 infection models and identify compounds to be included in novel therapeutic interventions to be tested in randomised controlled clinical trials.

Of note, their drug discovery strategy is based on drug repurposing, with drugs already approved for clinical use and then immediately available for clinical trials and future treatments.

Second, the work will actively support ongoing and future clinical trials in Ireland by providing a complete automated high throughput molecular platform to monitor the impact of specific interventions on SARS-CoV-2 replication level.

This platform will address the immediate need of clinicians when testing the efficacy and safety of treatment options for patients within a limited timeframe, as it will complement their routine clinical assessment with precise and real-time monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 replication in upper respiratory specimen and/or other samples. These molecular analyses will provide essential information for the evaluation of drugs candidates, and optimisation and design of future interventions.


Dr Virginie Gautier commented: "UCD CEPHR is focused on accelerating the development of Covid-19 treatments. We have mobilised our collaborators, resources and expertise to deliver a full Covid-19 antiviral pipeline. Our goal is to identify effective antiviral drugs to be included as part of new therapeutic interventions to reduce the Covid-19 disease burden."