Searching for Broad-Spectrum Antivirals Among Membrane-Active Molecules

Department of Energy

Searching for Broad-Spectrum Antivirals Among Membrane-Active Molecules


The goal of this project is to construct model membranes mimicking viral envelopes and characterize their interaction with antiviral peptides, amphiphiles and small molecules.

Issues Involved or Addressed

VIP students participating in this project will explore efficacies of membrane-targeting candidates for viral inhibition including viral peptides, amphiphiles, and membrane destabilizing small molecules. They will learn to prepare model membranes (e.g., giant vesicles), which mimic the viral envelope and mammalian cell membranes and using time-resolved fluorescence microscopies decipher in real-time how antiviral candidates destablize viral envelope, while leaving host cells unharmed. Students will acquire knowledge, understanding, and experiences of concepts, experimental methodologies, and characterization techniques from fields of Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Molecular and Cell biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Materials Science & Engineering.

Methods and Technologies

  • Giant unilamellar vesicle preparation
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Real time monitoring of vesicle-antiviral molecule interaction
  • Modeling biomembrane organization and reorganization

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Biomedical engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Physics

Preferred Interests and Preparation

Students interested in molecular level understanding and characterization of biomembrane-antiviral molecule interactions. Basic knowledge in chemistry, biology, and physics principles and techniques will be helpful.

Team Advisors


Department of Energy