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ACS central science ; 8(5):527-545, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1871009


Heparan sulfate (HS) is a cell surface polysaccharide recently identified as a coreceptor with the ACE2 protein for the S1 spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 virus, providing a tractable new therapeutic target. Clinically used heparins demonstrate an inhibitory activity but have an anticoagulant activity and are supply-limited, necessitating alternative solutions. Here, we show that synthetic HS mimetic pixatimod (PG545), a cancer drug candidate, binds and destabilizes the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain and directly inhibits its binding to ACE2, consistent with molecular modeling identification of multiple molecular contacts and overlapping pixatimod and ACE2 binding sites. Assays with multiple clinical isolates of SARS-CoV-2 virus show that pixatimod potently inhibits the infection of monkey Vero E6 cells and physiologically relevant human bronchial epithelial cells at safe therapeutic concentrations. Pixatimod also retained broad potency against variants of concern (VOC) including B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), B.1.617.2 (Delta), and B.1.1.529 (Omicron). Furthermore, in a K18-hACE2 mouse model, pixatimod significantly reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral titers in the upper respiratory tract and virus-induced weight loss. This demonstration of potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity tolerant to emerging mutations establishes proof-of-concept for targeting the HS–Spike protein–ACE2 axis with synthetic HS mimetics and provides a strong rationale for clinical investigation of pixatimod as a potential multimodal therapeutic for COVID-19. Heparan sulfate (HS) has emerged as a SARS-CoV-2 coreceptor. Pixatimod (PG545), an HS mimetic, inhibits infectivity of multiple variants offering a novel therapeutic approach against COVID-19.

Front Pharmacol ; 12: 660490, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1369702


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has caused a significant number of fatalities and worldwide disruption. To identify drugs to repurpose to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections, we established a screen to measure the dimerization of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the primary receptor for the virus. This screen identified fenofibric acid, the active metabolite of fenofibrate. Fenofibric acid also destabilized the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the viral spike protein and inhibited RBD binding to ACE2 in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and whole cell-binding assays. Fenofibrate and fenofibric acid were tested by two independent laboratories measuring infection of cultured Vero cells using two different SARS-CoV-2 isolates. In both settings at drug concentrations, which are clinically achievable, fenofibrate and fenofibric acid reduced viral infection by up to 70%. Together with its extensive history of clinical use and its relatively good safety profile, this study identifies fenofibrate as a potential therapeutic agent requiring an urgent clinical evaluation to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Thromb Haemost ; 120(12): 1700-1715, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-998020


The dependence of development and homeostasis in animals on the interaction of hundreds of extracellular regulatory proteins with the peri- and extracellular glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate (HS) is exploited by many microbial pathogens as a means of adherence and invasion. Heparin, a widely used anticoagulant drug, is structurally similar to HS and is a common experimental proxy. Exogenous heparin prevents infection by a range of viruses, including S-associated coronavirus isolate HSR1. Here, we show that heparin inhibits severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) invasion of Vero cells by up to 80% at doses achievable through prophylaxis and, particularly relevant, within the range deliverable by nebulisation. Surface plasmon resonance and circular dichroism spectroscopy demonstrate that heparin and enoxaparin, a low-molecular-weight heparin which is a clinical anticoagulant, bind and induce a conformational change in the spike (S1) protein receptor-binding domain (S1 RBD) of SARS-CoV-2. A library of heparin derivatives and size-defined fragments were used to probe the structural basis of this interaction. Binding to the RBD is more strongly dependent on the presence of 2-O or 6-O sulfate groups than on N-sulfation and a hexasaccharide is the minimum size required for secondary structural changes to be induced in the RBD. It is likely that inhibition of viral infection arises from an overlap between the binding sites of heparin/HS on S1 RBD and that of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. The results suggest a route for the rapid development of a first-line therapeutic by repurposing heparin and its derivatives as antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 and other members of the Coronaviridae.

Anticoagulants/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Enoxaparin/pharmacology , Heparin/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Animals , Anticoagulants/therapeutic use , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Chlorocebus aethiops , Enoxaparin/therapeutic use , Heparin/therapeutic use , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Nebulizers and Vaporizers , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Domains/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Structure-Activity Relationship , Vero Cells , Virus Internalization