Daten zum Projekt

Development of an inhalable small interfering RNA therapy for betacoronaviruses with potential for human transmission

Initiative: Innovative Ansätze in der antiviralen Wirkstoffentwicklung
Bewilligung: 22.06.2021


Within the last two decades, the world experienced three crossings of highly pathogenic coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2) from animals into the human population. Further coronaviruses with potential for human transmission have been identified in animal reservoirs, emphasizing the need to develop broadly active antiviral therapies to be prepared for future pandemics. Viral replication can effectively inhibited with small interfering (si)RNAs. As the respiratory tract is relatively easily accessible for local administration by inhalation, siRNAs hold promise to treat respiratory infections caused by coronaviruses after local administration. In preliminary work, the researchers defined coronaviral replication steps and genomic regions that can be inhibited by siRNAs with highest efficacy and identified siRNAs, which target sequences that are conserved within highly pathogenic human, but also animal coronaviruses. In a collaboration of three research groups with extensive experience in the fields of antiviral siRNAs, pulmonary siRNA delivery, and lung models, this project aims to develop an inhalable siRNA-based drug, which is broadly-active against coronaviruses and has the potential to be used in future pandemics. To achieve this, the team will optimize siRNA sequences and improve delivery by targeted and nebulized siRNA nanoformulations, making use of state-of-the-art models of the human lung.


  • Prof. Dr. Olivia Merkel

    Universität München
    Department Pharmazie
    Pharmazeutische Technologie und Biopharmazie
    Haus B

  • Dr. Gerald Burgstaller

    Helmholtz Zentrum München
    Deutsches Forschungszentrum für
    Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
    Institut für Lungenbiologie

  • Dr. Thomas Michler, MD

    Klinikum der Universität München
    Institut für Laboratoriumsmedizin