Life-threatening RNA viruses emerge regularly, and often in an unpredictable manner. Yet, the very few drugs available against known RNA viruses have sometimes required decades of research for development. Can we generate preparedness for outbreaks of the, as yet, unknown viruses? The VIZIER (VIral enZymes InvolvEd in Replication) (http://www.vizier-europe.org/) project has been set-up to develop the scientific foundations for countering this challenge to society. VIZIER studies the most conserved viral enzymes (that of the replication machinery, or replicases) that constitute attractive targets for drug-design. The aim of VIZIER is to determine as many replicase crystal structures as possible from a carefully selected list of viruses in order to comprehensively cover the diversity of the RNA virus universe, and generate critical knowledge that could be efficiently utilized to jump-start research on any emerging RNA virus. VIZIER is a multidisciplinary project involving (i) bioinformatics to define functional domains, (ii) viral genomics to increase the number of characterized viral genomes and prepare defined targets, (iii) proteomics to express, purify, and characterize targets, (iv) structural biology to solve their crystal structures, and (v) pre-lead discovery to propose active scaffolds of antiviral molecules
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