Professor Saye Khoo

Professor Saye Khoo

I am a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology.

We have been studying antiviral pharmacology in Liverpool for the past 25 years. In this time we have seen advances in treatment for HIV and Hepatitis C that would have once seemed unimaginable. It is my full intention to do whatever it takes to help find effective treatments for COVID-19, to stop people succumbing to the disease and to get our lives back to normal.

COVID-19 research areas

I lead the AGILE Coronavirus Drug Testing Initiative, which seeks to investigate new molecules as potential treatment for COVID-19. My lab also works to measure drug concentrations of these new therapies, in order to optimise the dosing. We have a large drug interactions programme to prevent harm arising from multiple treatments in people with many underlying medical conditions, which may interact with experimental COVID-19 therapies.

Current studies

We have reviewed over 4,000 drug interactions to support safe prescribing, and prevent patients from being harmed. We are part of an international effort to study new drug treatments for COVID-19. Our studies in HIV-positive pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa have also been extended to include characterisation of COVID-19 infections in this vulnerable group of people.

Why working towards tackling COVID-19 inspires me

The sense of team effort across the city, and all its institutions. We are one large research community striving for the same goal, and everyone has their part to play.

Team science

AGILE is a world-class team of researchers who have collective expertise in emerging viral infections, new drug development, therapeutics, drug safety and clinical tropical medicine. The drug interactions programme is truly international, with colleagues in Basel and Glasgow providing invaluable expertise and a tremendous effort. Our prescribing tool, for example, is now a standard tool for guidelines across the world, accessed by over 150,000 prescribers from 200 countries. It was established in three days (and nights – literally) and involved my old friend and mentor, Professor David Back, coming out of retirement. (Nobody actually believes he ever went into retirement!)

What it means to be part of the University of Liverpool at this time

The University family is facing perhaps the greatest challenge in its long history, and we all have an important role to support each other, to be resilient, determined and compassionate. I have been struck by the goodwill, and endless offers of help which have included donations of the entire stock of theatre scrubs for our infectious disease teams, and offers to sew aprons and gowns when PPE was lacking. Well done, University of Liverpool!

To find out more about my work, email me.

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