CRISPR-based genetic screens, artificial intelligence, ultra-high throughput in silico screens, medicinal chemistry, antiviral drug discovery

Principal Investigator: Michael Tyers
Theme : Health
Competition : COVID-19 Regional Genomics Initiative
Status : Completed
Start : June 1, 2020
End: May 31, 2021
Budget : $1,011,079.00

The sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic urgently requires new therapeutics against the causative pathogen, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This proposal is focused on dramatically accelerating the discovery of new antiviral drugs based on a rational understanding of how the virus interacts with human host cells. The team will use CRISPR-based genetic screens to identify new drug targets, artificial intelligence (AI) to predict chemical inhibitors against these targets, and advanced medicinal chemistry to synthesize and test inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 virus lifecycle. This research will occur on an accelerated timeline and will uncover how the virus depends on host cell functions and develop methods to rapidly target these functions in order to block virus replication. The outputs of this research program will deliver new COVID-19 therapeutic candidates and in the longer term establish a new AI-guided approach to develop drugs against many different diseases. 


Lead Genome Centre: Génome Québec 


Anne Marinier

 IRIC/Université de Montréal

Yoshua Bengio

 Mila/Université de Montréal