A research team at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is working with PerkinElmer’s AlphaLISA immunoassay to help support the global search for effective COVID-19 therapeutics.
The NCATS research project is focused on studying small molecule drug compounds that are already approved and in use as treatments but could potentially be repurposed for COVID-19.
The goal of the project is to quickly and reliably identify which small molecule compounds can best disrupt key proteins that bind together to allow for SARS-CoV-2 infection – the S1 spike protein and the host ACE2 receptor.
Using PerkinElmer’s AlphaLISA assay, the NCATS team has been able to efficiently and accurately screen 3,384 molecular entities and narrow them down to a field of 25 quality therapeutic compounds or ‘hits’. The whole process, from assay development and optimisation through screening, has been achieved in just a few months.
The AlphaLISA technology is a homogeneous (no-wash) assay that works by generating a light emission in response to a biomolecular interaction which results in proximity of the bead-binding complex. The platform can be used to detect and quantitate biomolecules of almost any size in both simple and complex sample types. Its bead-based, luminescent, signal amplification provides increased sensitivity, a wide dynamic range and potential assay miniaturisation.
Speaking to the aim and contribution of the NCATS project, Dr Quinlin Hanson, co-leader of the research effort and a Postdoctoral Fellow at NCATS said: “Our immediate goal was to develop a sensitive and robust assay platform that scientists could use as a template for screening small molecule compounds that might lead to further drug development. To share our learnings and support collaboration, we’ve posted our work on the NCATS Open Data Portal. Now our team will conduct additional testing on select molecules and make that information available to the scientific community as well when ready.”
Commenting on the importance of leveraging innovative approaches to help tackle COVID-19, Alan Fletcher, Vice President and General Manager, Life Sciences, PerkinElmer, added: “COVID-19 is inspiring research teams around the world to work in new ways – both individually and collectively – to tackle this universal health crisis. The research being done by the NCATS team around therapeutic compounds and the SARS-COV-2 spike protein is an important contribution to discovery efforts and we are delighted that our AlphaLISA technology is playing a role.”
Image credit: ThisIsEngineering RAEng