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1.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-324816

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 pandemic is the third zoonotic coronavirus (CoV) outbreak of the century after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) since 2012. Treatment options for CoVs are largely lacking. Here, we show that clofazimine, an anti-leprosy drug with a favorable safety and pharmacokinetics profile, possesses pan-coronaviral inhibitory activity, and can antagonize SARS-CoV-2 replication in multiple in vitro systems, including the human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and ex vivo lung cultures. The FDA-approved molecule was found to inhibit multiple steps of viral replication, suggesting multiple underlying antiviral mechanisms. In a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, prophylactic or therapeutic administration of clofazimine significantly reduced viral load in the lung and fecal viral shedding, and also prevented cytokine storm associated with viral infection. Additionally, clofazimine exhibited synergy when administered with remdesivir. Since clofazimine is orally bioavailable and has a comparatively low manufacturing cost, it is an attractive clinical candidate for outpatient treatment and remdesivir-based combinatorial therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, particularly in developing countries. Taken together, our data provide evidence that clofazimine may have a role in the control of the current pandemic SARS-CoV-2, endemic MERS-CoV in the Middle East, and, possibly most importantly, emerging CoVs of the future.

2.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-309731

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been a threat to global public health. Prompt patient identification and quarantine is the most effective way to control its rapid transmission, which can be facilitated by early detection of viral antigens. Here we present a platform to develop and optimize the fibronectin-based affinity-enhanced antibody mimetics (monobodies) for recognizing viral antigens. Specifically, we developed monobodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein. We showed that two monobodies, NN2 and NC2, bind to N protein’s N- and C-terminal domains respectively with a Kd in nM range.The specificity of the recognition was confirmed with co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence assays. Furthermore, we demonstrated that one round of in vitro maturation using mRNA display can improve the binding affinity of monobodies. Machine learning algorithms were integrated with deep sequencing data for selecting candidates that improve the detection sensitivity of N. Using this pair of monobodies, we have developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for viral detection. We were able to detect recombinant N at 4 pg/ml and detect N in viral culture supernatant, with no cross-reactivity with other CoV. Integrating high-dense mutagenesis, mRNA display, deep sequencing and machine learning, this platform can be applied through iterations to identify and optimize monobodies against emerging viral antigens, potentiating point-of-care detection of communicable diseases in a cost-and time-sensitive manner.Authors Yushen Du, Tian-hao Zhang, Xiangzhi Meng, Yuan Shi, and Menglong Hu contributed equally to this work.

3.
Analyst ; 146(24): 7386-7393, 2021 Dec 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1537342

ABSTRACT

We developed an innovative 3D printed casing that incorporates a lateral-flow immunoassay, dehydrated signal enhancement reagents, and a sealed buffer chamber. With only the push of a button for signal enhancement, our device detected the SARS-CoV-2 N-protein in 40 min at concentrations as low as 0.1 ng mL-1 in undiluted serum.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Immunoassay , Sensitivity and Specificity
4.
mSystems ; 6(2)2021 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1183288

ABSTRACT

RNA viruses, such as hepatitis C virus (HCV), influenza virus, and SARS-CoV-2, are notorious for their ability to evolve rapidly under selection in novel environments. It is known that the high mutation rate of RNA viruses can generate huge genetic diversity to facilitate viral adaptation. However, less attention has been paid to the underlying fitness landscape that represents the selection forces on viral genomes, especially under different selection conditions. Here, we systematically quantified the distribution of fitness effects of about 1,600 single amino acid substitutions in the drug-targeted region of NS5A protein of HCV. We found that the majority of nonsynonymous substitutions incur large fitness costs, suggesting that NS5A protein is highly optimized. The replication fitness of viruses is correlated with the pattern of sequence conservation in nature, and viral evolution is constrained by the need to maintain protein stability. We characterized the adaptive potential of HCV by subjecting the mutant viruses to selection by the antiviral drug daclatasvir at multiple concentrations. Both the relative fitness values and the number of beneficial mutations were found to increase with the increasing concentrations of daclatasvir. The changes in the spectrum of beneficial mutations in NS5A protein can be explained by a pharmacodynamics model describing viral fitness as a function of drug concentration. Overall, our results show that the distribution of fitness effects of mutations is modulated by both the constraints on the biophysical properties of proteins (i.e., selection pressure for protein stability) and the level of environmental stress (i.e., selection pressure for drug resistance).IMPORTANCE Many viruses adapt rapidly to novel selection pressures, such as antiviral drugs. Understanding how pathogens evolve under drug selection is critical for the success of antiviral therapy against human pathogens. By combining deep sequencing with selection experiments in cell culture, we have quantified the distribution of fitness effects of mutations in hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5A protein. Our results indicate that the majority of single amino acid substitutions in NS5A protein incur large fitness costs. Simulation of protein stability suggests viral evolution is constrained by the need to maintain protein stability. By subjecting the mutant viruses to selection under an antiviral drug, we find that the adaptive potential of viral proteins in a novel environment is modulated by the level of environmental stress, which can be explained by a pharmacodynamics model. Our comprehensive characterization of the fitness landscapes of NS5A can potentially guide the design of effective strategies to limit viral evolution.

5.
Nature ; 593(7859): 418-423, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1137788

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic is the third outbreak this century of a zoonotic disease caused by a coronavirus, following the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 20031 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 20122. Treatment options for coronaviruses are limited. Here we show that clofazimine-an anti-leprosy drug with a favourable safety profile3-possesses inhibitory activity against several coronaviruses, and can antagonize the replication of SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV in a range of in vitro systems. We found that this molecule, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, inhibits cell fusion mediated by the viral spike glycoprotein, as well as activity of the viral helicase. Prophylactic or therapeutic administration of clofazimine in a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis led to reduced viral loads in the lung and viral shedding in faeces, and also alleviated the inflammation associated with viral infection. Combinations of clofazimine and remdesivir exhibited antiviral synergy in vitro and in vivo, and restricted viral shedding from the upper respiratory tract. Clofazimine, which is orally bioavailable and comparatively cheap to manufacture, is an attractive clinical candidate for the treatment of outpatients and-when combined with remdesivir-in therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, particularly in contexts in which costs are an important factor or specialized medical facilities are limited. Our data provide evidence that clofazimine may have a role in the control of the current pandemic of COVID-19 and-possibly more importantly-in dealing with coronavirus diseases that may emerge in the future.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Clofazimine/pharmacology , Coronavirus/classification , Coronavirus/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Adenosine Monophosphate/therapeutic use , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Alanine/therapeutic use , Animals , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/pharmacokinetics , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/pharmacology , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/pharmacokinetics , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Biological Availability , Cell Fusion , Cell Line , Clofazimine/pharmacokinetics , Clofazimine/therapeutic use , Coronavirus/growth & development , Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Cricetinae , DNA Helicases/antagonists & inhibitors , Drug Synergism , Female , Humans , Life Cycle Stages/drug effects , Male , Mesocricetus , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Species Specificity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Transcription, Genetic/drug effects , Transcription, Genetic/genetics
6.
Res Sq ; 2020 Oct 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-869425

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 pandemic is the third zoonotic coronavirus (CoV) outbreak of the century after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) since 2012. Treatment options for CoVs are largely lacking. Here, we show that clofazimine, an anti-leprosy drug with a favorable safety and pharmacokinetics profile, possesses pan-coronaviral inhibitory activity, and can antagonize SARS-CoV-2 replication in multiple in vitro systems, including the human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and ex vivo lung cultures. The FDA-approved molecule was found to inhibit multiple steps of viral replication, suggesting multiple underlying antiviral mechanisms. In a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis, prophylactic or therapeutic administration of clofazimine significantly reduced viral load in the lung and fecal viral shedding, and also prevented cytokine storm associated with viral infection. Additionally, clofazimine exhibited synergy when administered with remdesivir. Since clofazimine is orally bioavailable and has a comparatively low manufacturing cost, it is an attractive clinical candidate for outpatient treatment and remdesivir-based combinatorial therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, particularly in developing countries. Taken together, our data provide evidence that clofazimine may have a role in the control of the current pandemic SARS-CoV-2, endemic MERS-CoV in the Middle East, and, possibly most importantly, emerging CoVs of the future.

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