How Viruses Work

Viruses can’t live on their own.

Far tinier than even the smallest single-cell organism, they consist of genetic material wrapped in a protein shell, called a capsid, that’s sometimes wrapped in a fatty membrane, or envelope. The only way viruses replicate is to invade the living cells of an organism and commandeer their metabolic machinery. Once inside, viruses reprogram host cells, turning them into virus factories.

Virus lifecycle

During the invasion of a host cell, viruses undergo five basic steps:

  1. Attachment to receptors on the surface of cells.
  2. Entry into cells by endocytosis or fusion with the membrane of the cell. Once inside, the capsid comes apart, releasing the virus’ genetic material.
  3. Expression of viral genes and replication of viral genetic material.
  4. Assembly of capsid proteins and genetic material to make new viral particles.
  5. Release of the viral particles from the host cell to invade other cells.

Antiviral medicines disrupt the viral lifecycle.

READDI’s scientific objective is stopping viruses from hijacking human cells. READDI leverages deep expertise in virology, medicinal chemistry, AI and other scientific disciplines to make small molecule drugs that target factors, such as proteins or nucleic acids, that viruses need to replicate. By shutting down the creation of virus factories, antiviral drugs reduce disease symptoms in individuals and slow the spread of viral infections among groups of people.

The READDI advantage

Viruses have an Achilles heel: They cluster in families — groups of viruses that share common ancestors. As a result, viruses in a specific family rely on a common set of factors to replicate. READDI exploits that vulnerability by making broad-spectrum antiviral drugs that work against all the viruses in a given family.

READDI uses historical data and AI to identify which families are most likely to cause major outbreaks — coronavirus, flavivirus, alphavirus, filovirus, among others — in order to develop antivirals that target those families. That’s how READDI can make antiviral drugs for viruses before they emerge and threaten to jump into humans.