Sight set on new treatment for COVID-19


Commercialising research results is a new experience to Jens Carlsson at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, but he is already hoping to have the opportunity to be involved in new projects that could lead to drugs. Photo: Niklas Norberg Wirtén.

Hello there… Jens Carlsson, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and one of the researchers behind a promising new molecule for a drug to combat coronavirus.

What does this discovery mean for future treatment options for COVID-19?
“I hope that the molecule can be developed into an antiviral drug, which will be a good complement to vaccines. The drug could be used to treat at-risk groups who are not vaccinated and individuals who develop severe symptoms despite being vaccinated. We also don’t know whether vaccines will work against all new virus variants, so drug development is also an important element of preparation for future pandemics.”

What collaborations have been crucial to the discovery?
“The research was carried out in collaboration with the pharmaceutical platform at the Science for Life Laboratory. Their expertise and infrastructure made it possible for the project to get off the ground quickly. Another key to success has been the collaboration between research groups with different skills. As everyone saw the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic, I also got the feeling that there was always extra energy from all the researchers to drive the project forward.”

What will be the next step to take the molecule further towards a drug?
“The molecule we have identified has a very good ability to block the coronavirus from replicating, but now we need to change some of its properties to make it more suitable as a drug. Among other things, it is important that the drug is not broken down too quickly in the body. Because it takes a lot of resources to develop a new drug, we are now working to get in touch with companies that can help us further develop our molecule.”

How has UU Innovation been able to support you so far?
“They have been enormously important! For example, our team has received support in submitting patent applications, conducting a market analysis, and developing a plan for our innovation project.”

What future do you see for yourself in this venture?
“As this is the first time I am involved in the commercialisation of research results, I am curious about all the steps in this process. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to be involved in new projects that could lead to drugs.”

What drives you in your work?
“The goal of my research is to try to understand how drugs work at the molecular level through use of computer simulations. I get most excited when our models are able to predict how to modify molecules to make them work better. We need to find more efficient ways to make drugs, and I want to develop new methods to make that possible.”

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Last modified: 2023-12-01