Japanese pharma company Sosei Heptares has identified and advanced the ‘most promising’ molecules in its COVID-19 research and development programme.

Sosei initiated the R&D programme back in April, which is aiming to design and develop novel drugs targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

In particular, the company is focusing on leveraging the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro protease to design novel oral small molecules against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other related human viruses.

Following the programme initiation, Sosei has now designed three distinct series of compounds with anti-viral drug-like properties and has advanced the molecules with the most potential.

The promising compounds have demonstrated high potency in inhibiting the activity of the Mpro protease, according to Sosei.

“It has been a great collaborative effort to identify promising small molecules using our SBDD platform, and to progress them through the design phases so quickly to provide initial evidence of their potential as oral treatments for newly diagnosed COVID-19,” said Miles Congreve, chief scientific officer of Sosei.

“The approach we are taking is also highly applicable to the design of potential new treatments for diseases caused by other human coronaviruses that may emerge in the future,” he added.