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1.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424111

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019, and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic, has led to substantial mortality, together with mass global disruption. There is an urgent need for novel antiviral drugs for therapeutic or prophylactic application. Cathepsin L is a key host cysteine protease utilized by coronaviruses for cell entry and is recognized as a promising drug target. The marine natural product, gallinamide A and several synthetic analogues, were identified as potent inhibitors of cathepsin L activity with IC50 values in the picomolar range. Lead molecules possessed selectivity over cathepsin B and other related human cathepsin proteases and did not exhibit inhibitory activity against viral proteases Mpro and PLpro. We demonstrate that gallinamide A and two lead analogues potently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro, with EC50 values in the nanomolar range, thus further highlighting the potential of cathepsin L as a COVID-19 antiviral drug target.


Subject(s)
COVID-19
2.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424229

ABSTRACT

Monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and reconstructing transmission chains has become a major public health focus for many governments around the world. The modest mutation rate and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 prevents the reconstruction of transmission chains from consensus genome sequences, but within-host genetic diversity could theoretically help identify close contacts. Here we describe the patterns of within-host diversity in 1,181 SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced to high depth in duplicate. 95% of samples show within-host mutations at detectable allele frequencies. Analyses of the mutational spectra revealed strong strand asymmetries suggestive of damage or RNA editing of the plus strand, rather than replication errors, dominating the accumulation of mutations during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Within and between host diversity show strong purifying selection, particularly against nonsense mutations. Recurrent within-host mutations, many of which coincide with known phylogenetic homoplasies, display a spectrum and patterns of purifying selection more suggestive of mutational hotspots than recombination or convergent evolution. While allele frequencies suggest that most samples result from infection by a single lineage, we identify multiple putative examples of co-infection. Integrating these results into an epidemiological inference framework, we find that while sharing of within-host variants between samples could help the reconstruction of transmission chains, mutational hotspots and rare cases of superinfection can confound these analyses.


Subject(s)
Brain Diseases , Coinfection
4.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424199

ABSTRACT

Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemics, an unprecedented research effort has been conducted to analyze the antibody responses in patients, and many trials based on passive immunotherapy -notably monoclonal antibodies - are ongoing. Twenty-one antibodies have entered clinical trials, 6 having reached phase 2/3, phase 3 or having received emergency authorization. These represent only the tip of the iceberg, since many more antibodies have been discovered and represent opportunities either for diagnosis purposes or as drug candidates. The main problem facing laboratories willing to develop such antibodies is the huge task of analyzing them and choosing the best candidate for exhaustive experimental validation. In this work we show how artificial intelligence-based methods can help in analyzing large sets of antibodies in order to determine in a few hours the best candidates in few hours. The MAbCluster method, which only requires knowledge of the amino acid sequences of the antibodies, allows to group the antibodies having the same epitope, considering only their amino acid sequences and their 3D structures (actual or predicted), and to infer some of their functional properties. We then use MAbTope to predict the epitopes for all antibodies for which they are not already known. This allows an exhaustive comparison of the available epitopes, but also gives a synthetic view of the possible combinations. Finally, we show how these results can be used to predict which antibodies might be affected by the different mutations arising in the circulating strains of the virus, such as the N501Y mutation that has started to spread in Great-Britain.


Subject(s)
COVID-19
5.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424254

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has inspired renewed interest in understanding the fundamental pathology of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) following infection because fatal COVID-19 cases are commonly linked to respiratory failure due to ARDS. The pathologic alteration known as diffuse alveolar damage in endothelial and epithelial cells is a critical feature of acute lung injury in ARDS. However, the pathogenesis of ARDS following SRAS-CoV-2 infection remains largely unknown. In the present study, we examined apoptosis in post-mortem lung sections from COVID-19 patients and lung tissues from a non-human primate model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, in a cell-type manner, including type 1 and 2 alveolar cells and vascular endothelial cells (ECs), macrophages, and T cells. Multiple-target immunofluorescence (IF) assays and western blotting suggest both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways are activated during SARS-CoV-2 infection. Furthermore, we observed that SARS-CoV-2 fails to induce apoptosis in human bronchial epithelial cells (i.e., BEAS2B cells) and primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), which are refractory to SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, infection of co-cultured Vero cells and HUVECs or Vero cells and BEAS2B cells with SARS-CoV-2 induced apoptosis in both Vero cells and HUVECs/BEAS2B cells, but did not alter the permissiveness of HUVECs or BEAS2B cells to the virus. Post-exposure treatment of the co-culture of Vero cells and HUVECs with an EPAC1-specific activator ameliorated apoptosis in HUVECs. These findings may help to delineate a novel insight into the pathogenesis of ARDS following SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
Respiratory Distress Syndrome , Acute Lung Injury , COVID-19 , Adenocarcinoma, Bronchiolo-Alveolar , Respiratory Insufficiency
6.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.24.422670

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is the aetiological agent of COVID-19 disease and has been spreading worldwide since December 2019. The virus has been shown to infect different animal species under experimental conditions. Also, minks have been found to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection in fur farms in Europe and the USA. Here we investigated 91 individual minks from a farm located in Northern Poland. Using RT-PCR, antigen detection and NGS, we confirmed 15 animals positive for SARS-CoV-2. The result was verified by sequencing of full viral genomes, confirming SARS-CoV-2 infection in Polish mink. Country-scale monitoring conducted by veterinary inspection so far has not detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on other mink farms. Taking into consideration that Poland has a high level of positive diagnostic tests among its population, there is a high risk that more Polish mink farms become a source for SARS-CoV-2. Findings reported here and from other fur producing countries urge the assessment of SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in animals bred in Polish fur farms.


Subject(s)
COVID-19
7.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.12.23.424189

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a new human pathogen in late 2019 and has infected an estimated 10% of the global population in less than a year. There is a clear need for effective antiviral drugs to complement current preventive measures including vaccines. In this study, we demonstrate that berberine and obatoclax, two broad-spectrum antiviral compounds, are effective against multiple isolates of SARS-CoV-2. Berberine, a plant-derived alkaloid, inhibited SARS-CoV-2 at low micromolar concentrations and obatoclax, originally developed as an anti-apoptotic protein antagonist, was effective at sub-micromolar concentrations. Time-of-addition studies indicated that berberine acts on the late stage of the viral life cycle. In agreement, berberine mildly affected viral RNA synthesis, but strongly reduced infectious viral titers, leading to an increase in the particle-to-pfu ratio. In contrast, obatoclax acted at the early stage of the infection, in line with its activity to neutralize the acidic environment in endosomes. We assessed infection of primary human nasal epithelial cells cultured on an air-liquid interface and found that SARS-CoV-2 infection induced and repressed expression of a specific set of cytokines and chemokines. Moreover, both obatoclax and berberine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in these primary target cells. We propose berberine and obatoclax as potential antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2 that could be considered for further efficacy testing.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , COVID-19
8.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.19.20156869

ABSTRACT

Samples for diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 can be obtained from the upper (nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs) or lower respiratory tract (sputum or tracheal aspirate or broncho-alveolar lavage - BAL). Data from different testing sites indicates different rates of positivity. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) allows for semi-quantitative estimates of viral load as time to crossing threshold (Ct) is inversely related to viral load. ObjectivesThe objective of our study was to evaluate SARS-CoV2 RNA loads between paired nasopharyngeal (NP) and deep lung (endotracheal aspirate or BAL) samples from critically ill patients. MethodsSARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR results were retrospectively reviewed for 51 critically ill patients from 5 intensive care units in 3 hospitals ; Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge (3 units), Royal Papworth Cambridge (1 unit), and Royal Sunderland Hospital (1 unit). At the times when paired NP and deep lung samples were obtained, one patient had been on oxygen only, 6 patients on non-invasive ventilation, 18 patients on ECMO, and 26 patients mechanically ventilated. ResultsResults collected showed significant gradient between NP and deep lung viral loads. Median Ct value was 29 for NP samples and 24 for deep lung samples. Of 51 paired samples, 16 were negative (below limit of detection) on NP swabs but positive (above limit of detection) on deep lung sample, whilst 2 were negative on deep sample but positive on NP (both patients were on ECMO). ConclusionsIt has been suggested that whilst SARS-CoV1 tends to replicate in the lower respiratory tract, SARS-CoV2 replicates more vigorously in the upper respiratory tract. These data challenge that assumption. These data suggest that viral migration to, and proliferation in, the lower respiratory tract may be a key factor in the progression to critical illness and the development of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Factors which promote this migration should be examined for association with severe COVID-19. From a practical point of view, patients with suspected severe COVID-19 should have virological samples obtained from the lower respiratory tract where-ever possible, as upper respiratory samples have a significant negative rate.


Subject(s)
COVID-19
9.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.06.26.20139873

ABSTRACT

Background Pandemic COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has a high incidence of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Many of these patients require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) for invasive artificial ventilation and are at significant risk of developing a secondary, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Objectives To study the incidence of VAP, as well as differences in secondary infections, and bacterial lung microbiome composition of ventilated COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Methods In this prospective observational study, we compared the incidence of VAP and secondary infections using a combination of a TaqMan multi-pathogen array and microbial culture. In addition, we determined the lung microbime composition using 16S RNA analyisis. The study involved eighteen COVID-19 and seven non-COVID-19 patients receiving invasive ventilation in three ICUs located in a single University teaching hospital between April 13th 2020 and May 7th 2020. Results We observed a higher percentage of confirmed VAP in COVID-19 patients. However, there was no statistical difference in the detected organisms or pulmonary microbiome when compared to non-COVID-19 patients. Conclusion COVID-19 makes people more susceptible to developing VAP, partly but not entirely due to the increased duration of ventilation. The pulmonary dysbiosis caused by COVID-19, and the array of secondary infections observed are similar to that seen in critically ill patients ventilated for other reasons.


Subject(s)
Pneumonia , COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , Dysbiosis , Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated
10.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.06.02.20118489

ABSTRACT

Background The diagnosis of infectious diseases has been hampered by reliance on microbial culture. Cultures take several days to return a result and organisms frequently fail to grow. In critically ill patients this leads to the use of empiric, broad-spectrum antimicrobials and mitigates against stewardship. Methods Single ICU observational cohort study with contemporaneous comparator group. We developed and implemented a TaqMan array card (TAC) covering 52 respiratory pathogens in ventilated patients undergoing bronchoscopic investigation for suspected pneumonia. The time to result was compared against conventional culture, and sensitivity compared to conventional microbiology and metagenomic sequencing. We observed the clinician decisions in response to array results, comparing antibiotic free days (AFD) between the study cohort and comparator group. Findings 95 patients were enrolled with 71 forming the comparator group. TAC returned results 61 hours (IQR 42-90) faster than culture. The test had an overall sensitivity of 93% (95% CI 88-97%) compared to a combined standard of conventional culture and metagenomic sequencing, with 100% sensitivity for most individual organisms. In 54% of cases the TAC results altered clinical management, with 62% of changes leading to de-escalation, 30% to an increase in spectrum, and investigations for alternative diagnoses in 9%. There was a significant difference in the distribution of AFDs with more AFDs in the TAC group (p=0.02). Interpretation Implementation of a customised syndromic diagnostic for pneumonia led to faster results, with high sensitivity and measurable impact on clinical decision making. Funding Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, Wellcome Trust and Cambridge NIHR BRC


Subject(s)
Communicable Diseases , Pneumonia , Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous , Gerstmann Syndrome
11.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.05.24.20100990

ABSTRACT

Nucleic acid amplification for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory samples is the standard method for diagnosis. These tests are centralised and therefore turnaround times can be 2-5 days. Point-of-care testing with rapid turnaround times would allow more effective triage in settings where patient management and infection control decisions need to be made rapidly. Inclusivity and specificity of the SAMBA II SARS-CoV-2 assay was determined by in silico analyses of the primers and probes. Analytical and clinical sensitivity and specificity of the SAMBA II SARS-CoV-2 Test was evaluated for analytical sensitivity and specificity. Clinical performance was evaluated in residual clinical samples compared to the Public Health England reference tests. The limit of detection of the SAMBA II SARS-CoV-2 Test is 250 cp/mL and is specific for detection of 2 regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The clinical sensitivity was evaluated in 172 clinical samples provided by the Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge (CMPHL), which showed a sensitivity of 98.9% (95% CI 94.03-99.97%), specificity of 100% (95% CI 95.55-100%), PPV of 100% and NPV of 98.78% (92.02-99.82%) compared to testing by CMPHLSAMBA detected 3 positive samples that were initially negative by PHE Test. The data shows that the SAMBA II SARS-CoV-2 Test performs equivalently to the centralised testing methods with a much quicker turnaround time. Point of care testing, such as SAMBA, should enable rapid patient management and effective implementation of infection control measures.

12.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.05.08.20095687

ABSTRACT

Background The burden and impact of healthcare-associated COVID-19 infections is unknown. We aimed to examine the utility of rapid sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 combined with detailed epidemiological analysis to investigate healthcare-associated COVID-19 infections and to inform infection control measures. Methods We set up rapid viral sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 from PCR-positive diagnostic samples using nanopore sequencing, enabling sample-to-sequence in less than 24 hours. We established a rapid review and reporting system with integration of genomic and epidemiological data to investigate suspected cases of healthcare-associated COVID-19. Results Between 13 March and 24 April 2020 we collected clinical data and samples from 5191 COVID-19 patients in the East of England. We sequenced 1000 samples, producing 747 complete viral genomes. We conducted combined epidemiological and genomic analysis of 299 patients at our hospital and identified 26 genomic clusters involving 114 patients. 66 cases (57.9%) had a strong epidemiological link and 15 cases (13.2%) had a plausible epidemiological link. These results were fed back clinical, infection control and hospital management teams, resulting in infection control interventions and informing patient safety reporting. Conclusions We established real-time genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in a UK hospital and demonstrated the benefit of combined genomic and epidemiological analysis for the investigation of healthcare-associated COVID-19 infections. This approach enabled us to detect cryptic transmission events and identify opportunities to target infection control interventions to reduce further healthcare-associated infections.


Subject(s)
COVID-19
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