Discovery of SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drugs through large-scale compound repurposing

Laura Riva, Shuofeng Yuan, Xin Yin, Laura Martin-Sancho, Naoko Matsunaga, Lars Pache, Sebastian Burgstaller-Muehlbacher, Paul D. De Jesus, Peter Teriete, Mitchell V. Hull, Max W. Chang, Jasper Fuk Woo Chan, Jianli Cao, Vincent Kwok Man Poon, Kristina M. Herbert, Kuoyuan Cheng, Tu Trinh H. Nguyen, Andrey Rubanov, Yuan Pu, Courtney NguyenAngela Choi, Raveen Rathnasinghe, Michael Schotsaert, Lisa Miorin, Marion Dejosez, Thomas P. Zwaka, Ko Yung Sit, Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Wen Chun Liu, Kris M. White, Mackenzie E. Chapman, Emma K. Lendy, Richard J. Glynne, Randy Albrecht, Eytan Ruppin, Andrew D. Mesecar, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Christopher Benner, Ren Sun, Peter G. Schultz, Andrew I. Su, Adolfo García-Sastre, Arnab K. Chatterjee, Kwok Yung Yuen, Sumit K. Chanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in 2019 has triggered an ongoing global pandemic of the severe pneumonia-like disease coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)1. The development of a vaccine is likely to take at least 12–18 months, and the typical timeline for approval of a new antiviral therapeutic agent can exceed 10 years. Thus, repurposing of known drugs could substantially accelerate the deployment of new therapies for COVID-19. Here we profiled a library of drugs encompassing approximately 12,000 clinical-stage or Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved small molecules to identify candidate therapeutic drugs for COVID-19. We report the identification of 100 molecules that inhibit viral replication of SARS-CoV-2, including 21 drugs that exhibit dose–response relationships. Of these, thirteen were found to harbour effective concentrations commensurate with probable achievable therapeutic doses in patients, including the PIKfyve kinase inhibitor apilimod2–4 and the cysteine protease inhibitors MDL-28170, Z LVG CHN2, VBY-825 and ONO 5334. Notably, MDL-28170, ONO 5334 and apilimod were found to antagonize viral replication in human pneumocyte-like cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, and apilimod also demonstrated antiviral efficacy in a primary human lung explant model. Since most of the molecules identified in this study have already advanced into the clinic, their known pharmacological and human safety profiles will enable accelerated preclinical and clinical evaluation of these drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
Issue number7827
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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