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ViroBlock, a Hebrew University Startup, Announces Preliminary Success of its Anti-Viral Drug Platform in New Study

 Targeting the Most Common Viruses: A Novel Platform Technology Yields

a New Drug that Could Treat Current and Future COVID-19 Variants


Similar Efforts Show Promise against Influenza,

Zika, West Nile, Hepatitis and Future Threats


JERUSALEM, June 27, 2022 – ViroBlock, a startup company founded by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) researchers, has developed a new drug platform for rapidly generating anti-viral drugs that target proteins common to all viruses.


"Currently, there are no efficient, validated platforms for rapidly generating anti-viral drugs," says ViroBlock CEO and Founder Isaiah (Shy) Arkin, who is also an HU professor of biological chemistry in the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences. "Scientists must develop new agents and a customized approach to target every new virus, without the ability to predict how that virus will develop resistance. ViroBlock is working on a promising drug candidate for COVID-19 using an approach that can be duplicated with most other important viruses."


According to a new study conducted by pharma research company Evotec, ViroBlock’s new technology platform demonstrated the potential to rapidly provide solutions for treating current and emerging viral threats, including COVID-19 and variants, influenza, Zika, West Nile, and Hepatitis B. The study showed that channel blockers it identified could protect cells from viral-induced death alongside dramatically lowering the amount of viral progeny.


ViroBlock's antiviral drug candidates inhibit two targets in the virus: the E (envelope) protein and the 3a protein. The E protein is an ion channel, a type of protein family expressed by virtually all living cells that because of its structure has served as a frequent target for pharmaceutical point interventions. For example, while the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 (the 2003 virus) are only about 75% identical, their E proteins are roughly 95% alike. This means the ViroBlock drugs would likely remain effective even when the virus mutates.


"With our propriety technology, ViroBlock can identify targets in a new viral threat (or variant), develop inhibitors against it, and determine the resistance potential of the virus against the new drug, all at an unprecedented pace," Arkin says.


The next phase of clinical trials will test the efficacy of this anti-viral approach for humans. The company also has drugs in the pipeline produced by the platform currently being tested that could be effective against other viruses.


ViroBlock was founded in 2020 by Yissum, the Hebrew University technology transfer company.


About Yissum: Yissum is the technology transfer company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Founded in 1964, it serves as a bridge between cutting-edge academic research and a global community of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry. Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting extraordinary innovations and transformational technologies into commercial solutions that address our most urgent global challenges. Yissum has registered over 11,000 patents globally; licensed over 1,140 technologies and has spun out more than 200 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Boston Scientific, ICL, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis and many more. For further information please visit


About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's leading academic and research institution. Serving 24,000 students from 80 countries, it produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and is ranked 12th worldwide in biotechnology patent filings and commercial development. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal since 2000. For more information, visit


About American Friends of the Hebrew University

American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) is a national, not-for-profit organization based in the United States. AFHU is headquartered in New York, and has seven regional offices working in close partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. AFHU provides supporters, Hebrew University alumni, and the public with stimulating programs and events, and organizes missions to Israel. The organization’s activities support scholarly and scientific achievement at HU, create scholarships, fund new facilities, and assist the university’s efforts to recruit outstanding new faculty.


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Last Updated: 27-Jun-2022