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Ana Jardim

Professor Ana Jardim

Research Fellow


University of Leeds

Research summary

Numerous innovative modern drugs have been developed from natural prototypes. These include aspirin, morphine, artemisinin (anti-malaria) and taxol (anti-tumoral). Natural flavonoids and alkaloids have demonstrated potential antiviral activities against a range of virus viruses including influenza, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Despite the pharmaceutical potential of compounds isolated from plants and animals, the isolation and purification processes are limiting. Yields of pure compounds are very low and some compounds can only be isolated from mature plants or protected species. These issues can be outcome by the development of synthetic compounds or peptides based on natural prototypes. This approach provides greater flexibility to change the structure, and allows both large-scale production and intellectual property protection. Thus, synthetic compounds and peptides are attractive candidates in the search for new therapeutic approaches. The efforts to develop innovative antivirals are challenged by the emergence of resistant strains, and the need to develop drugs which can impair the virus with low damage to the host cell. Therefore, our research group aims to evaluate the effects of synthetic analogues of naturally occurring compounds, their derivatives, and of synthetic peptides on the lifecycle of a range of viruses that are important human and animal pathogens. These include both the enveloped viruses Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), ZIKA virus (ZIKV), Mayaro virus (MAYV), Yellow-fever virus (YFV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and non-enveloped viruses as foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and Human papillomatosis virus (HPV). Our projects have been developed in a collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches which include researchers from different Institutions from Brazil, UK and Europe. The development of new chemical entities with antiviral activity provides a potential route to intellectual property protection (patents), and is directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries and tropical infection diseases caused by viruses. Therefore, by develping our proposal the results obtained could benefit the public health worldwide, but mainly in developing countries as Brazil.

Grants awarded

Evaluation of synthetic flavonoid and alkaloid-like compounds as novel antiviral therapeutics

Scheme: Newton Advanced Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2015 - Sep 2018

Value: £74,000

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