GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Program

First Thesis Advisor

Celia A. Schiffer, Ph.D.


Drug Resistance, Viral, Hepacivirus, Viral Nonstructural Proteins, Protease Inhibitors


HCV afflicts many millions of people globally, and antiviral therapies are often ineffective and intolerable. The Food and Drug Administration approved the HCV protease inhibitors telaprevir and boceprevir in May 2011, marking an important milestone in anti-HCV research over the past two decades. Nevertheless, severe drug side effects of combination therapy – flu-like symptoms, depression and anemia – limit patient adherence to treatment regimens. The acquisition of resistance challenges the long-term efficacy of antiviral therapies, including protease inhibitors, as suboptimal dosing allows for the selection of drug resistant viral variants. A better understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistance is therefore central to developing future generation protease inhibitors that retain potency against a broader spectrum of HCV strains.

To this end, my research characterizes the molecular basis of drug resistance against HCV protease inhibitors. Chapter II defines the mode of substrate recognition by the common volume shared by NS3/4A substrate products – the substrate envelope. Chapter III then correlates patterns of drug resistance to regions where drugs protrude from the substrate envelope. Lastly, Chapter IV elucidates the molecular underpinnings of resistance against four leading protease inhibitors – telaprevir, danoprevir, vaniprevir and MK-5172 – and provides practical approaches to designing novel drugs that are less susceptible to resistance. I ultimately hope my work appeals to the broader biomedical community of virologists, medicinal chemists and clinicians, who struggle to understand HCV and other human pathogens in the face of rapid disease evolution.



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