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, are responsible for thousands of victims severely impaired at neurological level each year in the world. The most recent large scale threat 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 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 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.

Beneficiaries and partners

Participant Name Short name Country PI
Instituto de Medicina Molecular
João Lobo Antunes
iMM Portugal Miguel Castanho
Universidad Pompeu Fabra UPF Spain David Andreu
Synovo Gmbh Synovo Germany Michael Burnet
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro UFRJ Brazil Andrea Da Poian


Title ''One size fits all'' unique drug to eradicate multiple viral species simultaneously from the central nervous system of co-infected individuals
Funding Agency European Commission
Funding Programme H2020-EU.1.2.1. - FET Open
Call / Topic FETOPEN-01-2018-2019-2020 - FET-Open Challenging Current Thinking
Grant agreement ID 828774
Start date 2019.09.01
Duration 48 months
Total investment EU contribution: 3 933 965,63€
Project Coordinator Miguel Castanho (Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM), Portugal)
Project Beneficiaries - Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM), Portugal
- Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Spain
- Synovo Gmbh (Synovo), Germany
Project Partners - Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil