Now Accepting Nominations

2025 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine

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Michael Lin, MD, PhD

Michael Lin, MD, PhD

Stanford University

Disease Areas

Virology, Infectious Diseases


Engineering an Antiviral to Combat COVID and Its Variants

Scholar Profile

2022 Harrington Scholar-Innovator

Since March 2020, Dr. Michael Lin and his team have been testing candidate compounds for a drug that could be taken orally soon after a positive COVID-19 test – and also would be effective against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. Early treatment would save millions of immunocompromised individuals from hospitalization and potential complications stemming from the virus.

Central to Dr. Lin's focus are proteases (virus-encoded enzymes involved in viral replication). Having worked with protease inhibitors for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV), Dr. Lin recognized similarities between HCV and SARS-CoV-2 viruses leading him to target the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro).

“The coronavirus main protease is an attractive drug target because it's essentially the first catalytic event required for viral replication,” Dr. Lin explains. “If you can make a drug that binds to the main protease and inhibits activity, then you can shut down viral replication from the very earliest time point.”

The Lin Lab is tackling the challenges of developing an orally administered compound from two directions. While working to further improve pharmacokinetics of the protease inhibitors they initially engineered (supported by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation), they are investigating two promising tripeptide compounds with assistance from the Harrington Discovery Institute.

“What makes our project distinct from others is that we're not necessarily trying to find a good enough drug that can be done very quickly,” Dr. Lin says. “We are trying to make this the best possible drug for the long term.”

Revolutionizing COVID-19 Treatment

Explore the fight against COVID-19 and its variants with Dr. Michael Lin, a 2022 Harrington Scholar-Innovator from Stanford University. Dr. Lin and his team have been on a mission since March 2020 to develop an oral drug for early COVID-19 treatment, potentially saving millions from hospitalization and complications. Dr. Lin's groundbreaking work focuses on protease inhibitors and the SARS-CoV-2 main protease. By targeting this critical element of viral replication, Dr. Lin's approach offers hope for a highly effective antiviral. Join us in supporting Dr. Lin's quest to engineer the ultimate antiviral, not just for today but for the future of virus treatment.

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