Discovery and development of COVID-19 prophylactics and treatments remains a global imperative. This perspective provides an overview of important molecular pathways involved in the viral life cycle of SARS-CoV-2, the infectious agent of COVID-19. We highlight past and recent findings in essential coronavirus proteins, including RNA polymerase machinery, proteases, and fusion proteins, that offer opportunities for the design of novel inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 infection. By discussing the current inventory of viral inhibitors, we identify molecular scaffolds that may be improved by medicinal chemistry efforts for effective therapeutics to treat current and future coronavirus-caused diseases.
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