In the forward discovery process, cellular targets of a virus are first identified from the virus-human interactomes. Cellular targets that have been drugged for other purposes, including with experimental molecules, and those interacting with virus-derived peptides are retained. This leads to the selection of small molecules and peptides that are further tested for their ability to control viral replication.
The reverse discovery process is engaged to enrich the forward process especially when interactome data are lacking or too incomplete to identify a significant number of new therapeutic targets. Peptides controlling viral replication in cell-based assays identify their intracellular targets as potential therapeutic candidate targets. When drugs have been developed or are in development against these intracellular proteins, they are tested for their antiviral activity.