Broad spectrum anti-viral prevents CoronavirusDate: 04 May 2020 Tags: Biotechnology
Researchers have found that a ribonucleoside analogue (beta-D-N4-hydroxycytidine or NHC) that has previously shown to be effective against influenza and Ebola is also potent against coronaviruses, including the novel coronavirus that is currently causing the pandemic.
Broad-spectrum antivirals for emerging zoonotic infections become particularly important when specific interventions do not yet exist.
The drug was found to be effective in both cell lines and primary human airway epithelial cultures against SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2.
It was also effective against three closely-related bat coronaviruses that were capable of replicating in human cells without undergoing any adaptation, suggesting potential direct transmission from bats to humans.
The NHC drug is highly active against all three coronaviruses — 2002 SARS, MERS and the novel coronavirus. While it was not toxic to human cells, there was a dose-dependent reduction in SARS, MERS and novel coronavirus infectious virus production in human airway epithelial cell cultures.
The researchers found that the antiviral activity of NHC arises from increased mutation rate in viral genomic RNA. In the case of MERS, treatment with 1 microMolar of NHC resulted in three-fold increase in error rate and 138-fold decrease in virus titer.
The prodrug was tested in vitro using the 2002 SARS coronavirus. Lung haemorrhage was significantly reduced and there was a dose-dependent reduction in lung titer of SARS coronavirus.
They found the prodrug given as a prophylactic was “robustly antiviral” and was able to prevent SARS coronavirus replication and disease.
The data support the continued development of NHC prodrug as a potent broad-spectrum antiviral that could be useful in treating contemporary, newly emerged and emerging CoV infections of the future.