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1.
Mol Ther ; 2022 Mar 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1783847

ABSTRACT

For coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), effective and well-understood treatment options are still scarce. Since vaccine efficacy is challenged by novel variants, short-lasting immunity, and vaccine hesitancy, understanding and optimizing therapeutic options remains essential. We aimed at better understanding the effects of two standard-of-care drugs, dexamethasone and anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies, on infection and host responses. By using two COVID-19 hamster models, pulmonary immune responses were analyzed to characterize effects of single or combinatorial treatments. Pulmonary viral burden was reduced by anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody treatment and unaltered or increased by dexamethasone alone. Dexamethasone exhibited strong anti-inflammatory effects and prevented fulminant disease in a severe disease model. Combination therapy showed additive benefits with both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory potency. Bulk and single-cell transcriptomic analyses confirmed dampened inflammatory cell recruitment into lungs upon dexamethasone treatment and identified a specifically responsive subpopulation of neutrophils, thereby indicating a potential mechanism of action. Our analyses confirm the anti-inflammatory properties of dexamethasone and suggest possible mechanisms, validate anti-viral effects of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody treatment, and reveal synergistic effects of a combination therapy, thus informing more effective COVID-19 therapies.

3.
mBio ; : e0370521, 2022 Mar 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1714363

ABSTRACT

Combinations of direct-acting antivirals are needed to minimize drug resistance mutations and stably suppress replication of RNA viruses. Currently, there are limited therapeutic options against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and testing of a number of drug regimens has led to conflicting results. Here, we show that cobicistat, which is an FDA-approved drug booster that blocks the activity of the drug-metabolizing proteins cytochrome P450-3As (CYP3As) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp), inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication. Two independent cell-to-cell membrane fusion assays showed that the antiviral effect of cobicistat is exerted through inhibition of spike protein-mediated membrane fusion. In line with this, incubation with low-micromolar concentrations of cobicistat decreased viral replication in three different cell lines including cells of lung and gut origin. When cobicistat was used in combination with remdesivir, a synergistic effect on the inhibition of viral replication was observed in cell lines and in a primary human colon organoid. This was consistent with the effects of cobicistat on two of its known targets, CYP3A4 and P-gp, the silencing of which boosted the in vitro antiviral activity of remdesivir in a cobicistat-like manner. When administered in vivo to Syrian hamsters at a high dose, cobicistat decreased viral load and mitigated clinical progression. These data highlight cobicistat as a therapeutic candidate for treating SARS-CoV-2 infection and as a potential building block of combination therapies for COVID-19. IMPORTANCE The lack of effective antiviral treatments against SARS-CoV-2 is a significant limitation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Single-drug regimens have so far yielded limited results, indicating that combinations of antivirals might be required, as previously seen for other RNA viruses. Our work introduces the drug booster cobicistat, which is approved by the FDA and typically used to potentiate the effect of anti-HIV protease inhibitors, as a candidate inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 replication. Beyond its direct activity as an antiviral, we show that cobicistat can enhance the effect of remdesivir, which was one of the first drugs proposed for treatment of SARS-CoV-2. Overall, the dual action of cobicistat as a direct antiviral and a drug booster can provide a new approach to design combination therapies and rescue the activity of compounds that are only partially effective in monotherapy.

4.
Sci Adv ; 7(49): eabk0172, 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546430

ABSTRACT

Vaccines are instrumental and indispensable in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Several recent SARS-CoV-2 variants are more transmissible and evade infection- or vaccine-induced protection. We constructed live attenuated vaccine candidates by large-scale recoding of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and showed that the lead candidate, designated sCPD9, protects Syrian hamsters from a challenge with ancestral virus. Here, we assessed immunogenicity and protective efficacy of sCPD9 in the Roborovski dwarf hamster, a nontransgenic rodent species that is highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and severe COVID-19­like disease. We show that a single intranasal vaccination with sCPD9 elicited strong cross-neutralizing antibody responses against four current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), B.1.1.28.1 (Gamma), and B.1.617.2 (Delta). The sCPD9 vaccine offered complete protection from COVID-19­like disease caused by the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1 and the two variants of concern B.1.1.7 and B.1.351.

5.
Viruses ; 13(11)2021 11 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1524173

ABSTRACT

With the exception of inactivated vaccines, all SARS-CoV-2 vaccines currently used for clinical application focus on the spike envelope glycoprotein as a virus-specific antigen. Compared to other SARS-CoV-2 genes, mutations in the spike protein gene are more rapidly selected and spread within the population, which carries the risk of impairing the efficacy of spike-based vaccines. It is unclear to what extent the loss of neutralizing antibody epitopes can be compensated by cellular immune responses, and whether the use of other SARS-CoV-2 antigens might cause a more diverse immune response and better long-term protection, particularly in light of the continued evolution towards new SARS-CoV-2 variants. To address this question, we explored immunogenicity and protective effects of adenoviral vectors encoding either the full-length spike protein (S), the nucleocapsid protein (N), the receptor binding domain (RBD) or a hybrid construct of RBD and the membrane protein (M) in a highly susceptible COVID-19 hamster model. All adenoviral vaccines provided life-saving protection against SARS-CoV-2-infection. The most efficient protection was achieved after exposure to full-length spike. However, the nucleocapsid protein, which triggered a robust T-cell response but did not facilitate the formation of neutralizing antibodies, controlled early virus replication efficiently and prevented severe pneumonia. Although the full-length spike protein is an excellent target for vaccines, it does not appear to be the only option for future vaccine design.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunity, Cellular , Immunity, Humoral , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antigens, Viral/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Cricetinae , Female , Inflammation , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Mice, Inbred C57BL , Phosphoproteins/genetics , Phosphoproteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Viral Matrix Proteins/genetics , Viral Matrix Proteins/immunology
6.
Viruses ; 13(10)2021 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1463841

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected almost 200 million people worldwide and led to approximately 4 million deaths as of August 2021. Despite successful vaccine development, treatment options are limited. A promising strategy to specifically target viral infections is to suppress viral replication through RNA interference (RNAi). Hence, we designed eight small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) targeting the highly conserved 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) of SARS-CoV-2. The most promising candidate identified in initial reporter assays, termed siCoV6, targets the leader sequence of the virus, which is present in the genomic as well as in all subgenomic RNAs. In assays with infectious SARS-CoV-2, it reduced replication by two orders of magnitude and prevented the development of a cytopathic effect. Moreover, it retained its activity against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant and has perfect homology against all sequences of the delta variant that were analyzed by bioinformatic means. Interestingly, the siRNA was even highly active in virus replication assays with the SARS-CoV-1 family member. This work thus identified a very potent siRNA with a broad activity against various SARS-CoV viruses that represents a promising candidate for the development of new treatment options.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/therapy , RNA Interference , RNA, Small Interfering/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Virus Replication/drug effects , 5' Untranslated Regions/genetics , Animals , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , HeLa Cells , Humans , RNA, Small Interfering/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/genetics
7.
Nature ; 599(7884): 283-289, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1404888

ABSTRACT

Derailed cytokine and immune cell networks account for the organ damage and the clinical severity of COVID-19 (refs. 1-4). Here we show that SARS-CoV-2, like other viruses, evokes cellular senescence as a primary stress response in infected cells. Virus-induced senescence (VIS) is indistinguishable from other forms of cellular senescence and is accompanied by a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which comprises pro-inflammatory cytokines, extracellular-matrix-active factors and pro-coagulatory mediators5-7. Patients with COVID-19 displayed markers of senescence in their airway mucosa in situ and increased serum levels of SASP factors. In vitro assays demonstrated macrophage activation with SASP-reminiscent secretion, complement lysis and SASP-amplifying secondary senescence of endothelial cells, which mirrored hallmark features of COVID-19 such as macrophage and neutrophil infiltration, endothelial damage and widespread thrombosis in affected lung tissue1,8,9. Moreover, supernatant from VIS cells, including SARS-CoV-2-induced senescence, induced neutrophil extracellular trap formation and activation of platelets and the clotting cascade. Senolytics such as navitoclax and a combination of dasatinib plus quercetin selectively eliminated VIS cells, mitigated COVID-19-reminiscent lung disease and reduced inflammation in SARS-CoV-2-infected hamsters and mice. Our findings mark VIS as a pathogenic trigger of COVID-19-related cytokine escalation and organ damage, and suggest that senolytic targeting of virus-infected cells is a treatment option against SARS-CoV-2 and perhaps other viral infections.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Cellular Senescence/drug effects , Molecular Targeted Therapy , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Aniline Compounds/pharmacology , Aniline Compounds/therapeutic use , Animals , COVID-19/complications , Cell Line , Cricetinae , Dasatinib/pharmacology , Dasatinib/therapeutic use , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Humans , Male , Mice , Quercetin/pharmacology , Quercetin/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Sulfonamides/pharmacology , Sulfonamides/therapeutic use , Thrombosis/complications , Thrombosis/immunology , Thrombosis/metabolism
8.
Cell Rep ; 36(5): 109493, 2021 08 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1328703

ABSTRACT

Safe and effective vaccines are urgently needed to stop the pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We construct a series of live attenuated vaccine candidates by large-scale recoding of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and assess their safety and efficacy in Syrian hamsters. Animals were vaccinated with a single dose of the respective recoded virus and challenged 21 days later. Two of the tested viruses do not cause clinical symptoms but are highly immunogenic and induce strong protective immunity. Attenuated viruses replicate efficiently in the upper but not in the lower airways, causing only mild pulmonary histopathology. After challenge, hamsters develop no signs of disease and rapidly clear challenge virus: at no time could infectious virus be recovered from the lungs of infected animals. The ease with which attenuated virus candidates can be produced and administered favors their further development as vaccines to combat the ongoing pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Respiratory System/pathology , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Gene Editing , Genome, Viral , Humans , Immunity , Mesocricetus , Mutation , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vaccines, Attenuated , Vero Cells , Virus Replication
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