MechE Colloquium: Supramolecular Approaches to Design Novel Antivirals


Event details

Date and time 08.12.2020 12:1513:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Francesco Stellacci, Supramolecular Nanomaterials and Interfaces Laboratory, EPFL School of Engineering (STI), Institute of Materials (IMX)
Category Conferences - Seminars
Viral infections are among the main causes of death in the world. When prevention is not an option, antiviral drugs are the last resort to prevent the spread and the mortality of these infections. There are only a few effective drugs on the market, for the most part they prevent intracellular viral replication. Unfortunately, they are too few when compared to the many viruses that threaten humans.

In this talk, I will show a new design rule to achieve drugs that fight viruses extracellularly by irreversibly inhibiting their infectivity, i.e. I will show how to create virucidal compounds. The design of these macromolecular virucidal agents starts by a bio-mimic approach and is characterized by the limited toxicity towards host cells that one would expect from such compounds. Yet, I will demonstrate that the multivalent binding to the viruses, coupled with a large hydrophobic contact between the compounds and the virus leads to a loss of integrity of the virion that obviously leads to an irreversible loss of infectivity. Results in and ex-vivo will be illustrated especially for the cases of influenza, herpes, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Prof. Francesco Stellacci is a Materials Engineer graduated at the Politecnico di Milano with a thesis on photochromic polymers. He did a post-doc with Prof. J.W. Perry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Arizona on two-photon microfabrication. In 2002 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT (Cambridge, USA). There he became an associate professor with tenure in 2009. In 2010, he moved as a full professor to EPFL. He has won numerous awards, among them the Technology Review TR35 ’top innovator under 35’, the Popular Science Magazine ’Brilliant 10’, and the EMRS EU40. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, of the Global Young Academy, and of the European Academy of Sciences, and he is a Member of the Academia Europaea.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free



MechE Colloquium: Supramolecular Approaches to Design Novel Antivirals