Identification of Anti-COVID-19 Agents, Cepharanthine and Nelfinavir, and Their Potential Usage for Combination Treatment
36 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2020 Publication Status: Under ReviewMore...
Antiviral treatments targeting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are urgently required. We screened a panel of already-approved drugs in a cell culture model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and identified two new agents having higher antiviral potentials than the drug candidates such as remdesivir and chroloquine: the anti-inflammatory drug Cepharanthine and HIV protease inhibitor Nelfinavir. Cepharanthine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 entry into cells, whilst Nelfinavir inhibited the catalytic activity of viral main protease to suppress viral replication. Consistent with their different modes of action, in vitro assays highlight a synergistic effect of this combined treatment to limit SARS-CoV-2 proliferation. Mathematical modeling in vitro antiviral activity coupled with the known pharmacokinetics for these drugs predicts that Nelfinavir will shorten the period until viral clearance by 5.5-days and the combining Cepharanthine/Nelfinavir enhanced their predicted efficacy to control viral proliferation. In summary, this study identifies a new multidrug combination treatment for COVID-19.
Funding: This work was supported by The Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) emerging/re-emerging infectious diseases project (JP19fk0108111, JP19fk0108110, JP20fk0108104); the AMED Basis for Supporting Innovative Drug Discovery and Life Science Research (BINDS, JP19am0101114, JP19am0101069, JP19am0101111) program; The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science 260 KAKENHI (JP17H04085, JP20H03499, JP15H05707, 19H04839); The JST MIRAI program; and Wellcome Trust funded Investigator award (200838/Z/16/Z).
Conflict of Interest: None.
Keywords: coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, antiviral, Nelfinavir, Cepharanthine, protease, spike, in silico
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