To develop a safe, globally accessible, and affordable antiviral pill for COVID-19
current phase of drug development
updated 10 Nov 2023
The COVID Moonshot is a non-profit, open-science consortium of scientists from around the world dedicated to the discovery of safe, globally affordable, straight-to-generic, and easily-manufactured antiviral drugs against COVID-19 and future viral pandemics.
The project started as a spontaneous virtual collaboration in March 2020 when a group of scientists, academics, pharmaceutical research teams, and students began a worldwide, twitter-fuelled race against the clock to identify new molecules that could block SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Thanks to this unprecedented open collaboration of more than 150 scientists, rapid progress was made to identify key compounds showing excellent antiviral activity against the main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2. These promising molecules are now in pre-clinical evaluation, with the consortium working to advance a compound to first in human studies in 2024.
DNDi is coordinating a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator-funded project as it progresses a first-in-class compound towards the clinic.
Data shows that this advanced lead, DNDI-6510, is clean in all early in vitro tox screens and highly selective for coronavirus MPro(s), demonstrates clear cellular activity in line with approved MPro inhibitor Nirmatrelvir, and has an excellent cross species ADME and PK profile.
Although other entities are currently developing COVID-19 antivirals, there remains a great need for novel antivirals to provide additional treatment options and reach patients who are excluded due to drug-drug interactions or lack of affordable access.
Open science and intellectual property
All the project’s discovery scientific data will be put in the public domain. Moonshot data is available online to enable others to freely build on its work and accelerate COVID-19 research.
This approach is already showing results: according to a March 30, 2022 publication about a COVID-19 antiviral drug, key interactions observed by Moonshot compounds enabled identification of a promising drug developed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi that is now in being reviewed for regulatory approval.
Moonshot did not patent any molecules it found. They will be available for everyone to use and improve. Patents for manufacturing processes or formulation may be possible, depending on partners’ contribution, but always subject to ensuring the drug will be globally affordable and easily accessible to everyone who needs it, particularly in resource-limited settings.
How to get involved
We are continuing our Moonshot open science journey, and want to hear from you if you would like to contribute with ideas and designs! Moonshot now has a new home in the ASAP consortium, with the aim of delivering oral antivirals for pandemic preparedness with the goal of global, equitable, and affordable access.
Beyond contributions to the drug discovery design via the well-established Moonshot platform, we’re actively looking for partners to support the following activities:
- Co-lead development and registration
- CMC activities: Scale-up and manufacture for clinical trial supply for Phase II/III; Commercial product development
- Clinical development (Phase I-III) activities: DNDi leading phase I (ideally partner to co-lead); Partner to lead phase II/III (DNDi co-lead)
- Registration activities: Dossier preparation and filing to WHO standards
- Expand geographic reach
- Commercial manufacture and distribution to low- and middle-income countries
- Generic companies in various regions to support eventual fast supply to low- and middle-income countries
To get involved, please contact Peter Sjö, Head of Drug Discovery Programme, DNDi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moonshot project in the news
- MIT Technology Review – How open-source drug discovery could help us in the next pandemic
- Bloomberg – Crowdsourced Covid antiviral project gets $11 million in funding
- The Times – Moonshot is the spanner in the Covid-19 works the country needs
- Libération – Médicament contre le Covid : une piste prometteuse, fruit d’une recherche collaborative
- Le Temps – Trouver un antiviral contre le Covid-19 grâce à la recherche participative – Le Temps
- Radio Télévision Suisse – A la recherche d’une “aspirine” contre le COVID
- Global Health Now – COVID-19 treatments coming soon?
- BBC – Science in Action
- Yahoo – Desarrollo colectivo de antiviral oral para covid recibe US$11M
- Knowable Magazine – Why we are developing a patent-free Covid antiviral therapy
- Bloomberg – Ukraine War Hobbles Covid-Pill Project in Lab Near Front Lines
- BBC – Digital Planet
- Health Policy Watch – The Moonshot: Crowdsourcing to develop the first open-source, generic COVID-19 antiviral pill
- The Medicine Maker – A COVID Moonshot Compilation
News & resources
- 27 November 2023 - ‘The power of open innovation for drug discovery’: COVID-19 Moonshot pioneers share their story, Fierce Biotech
- 14 November 2023 - Covid Moonshot yields novel coronavirus antivirals, C&EN
- 10 November 2023 - Open science discovery of potent noncovalent SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors, Science
- 10 November 2023 - How open-source drug discovery could help us in the next pandemic, MIT Technology Review
- 24 December 2021 - The moonshot: crowdsourcing to develop the first open-source, generic COVID-19 antiviral pill, Health Policy Watch
- 24 December 2021 - The Moonshot: Crowdsourcing to develop the first open-source, generic COVID-19 antiviral pill, Health Policy Watch
- 21 December 2021 - Moonshot – tech used to learn more about neglected diseases is fighting COVID [from 19’12], BBC
- 27 September 2021 - COVID Moonshot funded by COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to rapidly develop a safe, globally accessible and affordable antiviral pill
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