CORDIS - EU research results

''One size fits all'' unique drug to eradicate multiple viral species simultaneously from the central nervous system of co-infected individuals

Project description

Development of universal drug to target viral co-infection in the nervous system

Zika, dengue, chikungunya, HIV and measles claim thousands of victims each year. These viral infections of the central nervous system cause neurological impairment. Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses are spread mainly by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. Zika virus can get through the blood-placental barrier and then the developing blood-brain barrier of the foetus, causing newborn microcephaly and neurological disorders. Current drug development strategies completely overlook the reality of co-infection for these viruses. The EU-funded NOVIRUSES2BRAIN project will identify and select universal drug candidates that translocate blood-placental and blood-brain barriers to target these viruses, even during pregnancy. This project has international scope, including experts in medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, virology and drug development. NOVIRUSES2BRAIN aims to create a drug that clears all viral species from the brain simultaneously.


Viruses that infect the brain and other parts of the central nervous system are a worldwide threat of terrible dimensions. Viruses such as Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, HIV or measles, for instance, and more recently the Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are responsible for thousands of victims severely impaired at neurological level each year in the world. One of the most recent large scale threats in this domain was a Zika virus outbreak in South America. Zika virus, like Dengue virus or Chikungunya virus, is spread mainly by mosquitos of the genus Aedes. While Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, as many others, might causes diseases with severe neurological disorders, Zika virus is much more dreadful in this regard. When a pregnant woman is infected, the virus is able to translocate the blood-placental barrier and then the developing blood-brain barrier of the foetus, causing microcephaly and serious neurological disorders to newly born babies.
Although co-infections with Aedes-borne viruses, such as the above mentioned Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, are likely because several viral species coexist in the same vector, the classical drug development strategies completely overlook this striking reality. Moreover, additional co-infections with HIV, SARS-CoV-2 and measles virus, using other routes of infection, are also possible. A drug able to target a very large spectrum of viral species is urgently needed.
Importantly, this drug must be able to traverse the blood-brain barrier and reach the viruses accumulated in the brain.
NOVIRUSES2BRAIN is a project that aims at finding and selecting drug leads that are both efficacious and able to translocate the blood-placental and blood-brain barriers so that Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and other viruses, such as the recently discovered SARS-CoV-2 can be targeted across barriers, including during pregnancy. The project gathers the expertise of medicinal chemists, biochemists, drug development specialists and virologists to create drug leads able to clear all viral species from brain simultaneously.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 2 113 125,00
1649 028 Lisboa

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Continente Área Metropolitana de Lisboa Área Metropolitana de Lisboa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 2 113 125,00

Participants (2)