Compounds that halt reproduction of COVID-19 virus identifie
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University of South Florida Health (USF Health) Morsani College of Medicine scientists recently worked with colleagues at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy to identify several existing compounds that block replication of the COVID-19 virus within human cells grown in the laboratory. The inhibitors all demonstrated potent chemical and structural interactions with a viral protein critical to the virus's ability to proliferate.

The four leading drug candidates identified as the most potent and specific for fighting COVID-19 are described below. These inhibitors rose to the top after screening more than 50 existing protease compounds for potential repurposing:

-- Boceprevir, a drug to treat Hepatitis C, is the only one of the four compounds already approved by the FDA. Its effective dose, safety profile, formulation and pharmacokinetics are already known, which would greatly speed up the steps needed to get boceprevir to clinical trials for COVID-19.

-- GC-376, an investigational veterinary drug for a deadly strain of coronavirus in cats, which causes feline infectious peritonitis. This agent was the most potent inhibitor of the Mpro enzyme in biochemical tests.

-- Calpain inhibitors II and XII, cysteine inhibitors investigated in the past for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and other conditions, also showed strong antiviral activity. Their ability to dually inhibit both Mpro and calpain/cathepsin protease suggests these compounds may include the added benefit of suppressing drug resistance, the researchers report.

All four compounds were superior to other Mpro inhibitors previously identified as suitable to clinically evaluate for treating SARS-CoV-2, researchers said.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0356-z
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