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1.
European journal of medicinal chemistry ; 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2072979

ABSTRACT

Although vaccines are greatly mitigating the worldwide pandemic diffusion of SARS-Cov-2, therapeutics should provide many distinct advantages as complementary approach to control the viral spreading. Here, we report the development of new tripeptide derivatives of AT1001 against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro. By molecular modeling, a small compound library was rationally designed and filtered for enzymatic inhibition through FRET assay, leading to the identification of compound 4. X-ray crystallography studies provide insights into its binding mode and confirm the formation of a covalent bond with Mpro C145. In vitro antiviral tests indicate the improvement of biological activity of 4. In silico and X-ray crystallography analysis led to 58, showing a promising activity against three SARS-CoV-2 variants and a valuable safety in Vero cells and human embryonic lung fibroblasts. The drug tolerance was also confirmed by in vivo studies, along with pharmacokinetics evaluation. In summary, 58 could pave the way to develop a clinical candidate for intranasal administration. Graphical Image 1

2.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(19)2022 Sep 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2066124

ABSTRACT

Influenza viruses represent a leading cause of high morbidity and mortality worldwide. Approaches for fighting flu are seasonal vaccines and some antiviral drugs. The development of the seasonal flu vaccine requires a great deal of effort, as careful studies are needed to select the strains to be included in each year's vaccine. Antiviral drugs available against Influenza virus infections have certain limitations due to the increased resistance rate and negative side effects. The highly mutative nature of these viruses leads to the emergence of new antigenic variants, against which the urgent development of new approaches for antiviral therapy is needed. Among these approaches, one of the emerging new fields of "peptide-based therapies" against Influenza viruses is being explored and looks promising. This review describes the recent findings on the antiviral activity, mechanism of action and therapeutic capability of antiviral peptides that bind HA, NA, PB1, and M2 as a means of countering Influenza virus infection.


Subject(s)
Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Orthomyxoviridae Infections , Orthomyxoviridae , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Humans , Influenza, Human/drug therapy , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Neuraminidase , Peptides/pharmacology , Peptides/therapeutic use
3.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(10)2022 May 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1862811

ABSTRACT

Coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the etiological agent of the current COVID-19 pandemic), rely on the surface spike glycoprotein to access the host cells, mainly through the interaction of their receptor-binding domain (RBD) with the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Therefore, molecular entities able to interfere with the binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to ACE2 have great potential to inhibit viral entry. Starting from the available structural data on the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the host ACE2 receptor, we engineered a set of soluble and stable spike interactors, here denoted as S-plugs. Starting from the prototype S-plug, we adopted a computational approach by combining stability prediction, associated to single-point mutations, with molecular dynamics to enhance both S-plug thermostability and binding affinity to the spike protein. The best developed molecule, S-plug3, possesses a highly stable α-helical con-formation (with melting temperature Tm of 54 °C) and can interact with the spike RBD and S1 domains with similar low nanomolar affinities. Importantly, S-plug3 exposes the spike RBD to almost the same interface as the human ACE2 receptor, aimed at the recognition of all ACE2-accessing coronaviruses. Consistently, S-plug3 preserves a low nanomolar dissociation constant with the delta B.1.617.2 variant of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (KD = 29.2 ± 0.6 nM). Taken together, we provide valid starting data for the development of therapeutical and diagnostic tools against coronaviruses accessing through ACE2.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , COVID-19 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/metabolism , Pandemics , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Viral Envelope Proteins/chemistry
4.
Pharmaceuticals (Basel) ; 14(10)2021 Sep 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1480907

ABSTRACT

Influenza is a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness, which represents one of the main health issues worldwide. Even though some antivirals are available, the alarming increase in virus strains resistant to them highlights the need to find new drugs. Previously, Superti et al. deeply investigated the mechanism of the anti-influenza virus effect of bovine lactoferrin (bLf) and the role of its tryptic fragments (the N- and C-lobes) in antiviral activity. Recently, through a truncation library, we identified the tetrapeptides, Ac-SKHS-NH2 (1) and Ac-SLDC-NH2 (2), derived from bLf C-lobe fragment 418-429, which were able to bind hemagglutinin (HA) and inhibit cell infection in a concentration range of femto- to picomolar. Starting from these results, in this work, we initiated a systematic SAR study on the peptides mentioned above, through an alanine scanning approach. We carried out binding affinity measurements by microscale thermophoresis (MST) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), as well as hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and virus neutralization (NT) assays on synthesized peptides. Computational studies were performed to identify possible ligand-HA interactions. Results obtained led to the identification of an interesting peptide endowed with broad anti-influenza activity and able to inhibit viral infection to a greater extent of reference peptide.

5.
Eur J Med Chem ; 226: 113863, 2021 Dec 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433179

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 pandemic, starting from the latest 2019, and caused by SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, led to the hardest health-socio-economic disaster in the last century. Despite the tremendous scientific efforts, mainly focused on the development of vaccines, identification of potent and efficient anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics still represents an unmet need. Remdesivir, an anti-Ebola drug selected from a repurposing campaign, is the only drug approved, so far, for the treatment of the infection. Nevertheless, WHO in later 2020 has recommended against its use in COVID-19. In the present paper, we describe a step-by-step in silico design of a small library of compounds as main protease (Mpro) inhibitors. All the molecules were screened by an enzymatic assay on Mpro and, then, cellular activity was evaluated using Vero cells viral infection model. The cellular screening disclosed compounds 29 and 34 as in-vitro SARS-CoV-2 replication inhibitors at non-toxic concentrations (0.32 < EC50 < 5.98 µM). To rationalize these results, additional in-vitro assays were performed, focusing on papain like protease (PLpro) and spike protein (SP) as potential targets for the synthesized molecules. This pharmacological workflow allowed the identification of compound 29, as a dual acting SARS-CoV-2 proteases inhibitor featuring micromolar inhibitory potency versus Mpro (IC50 = 1.72 µM) and submicromolar potency versus PLpro (IC50 = 0.67 µM), and of compound 34 as a selective SP inhibitor (IC50 = 3.26 µM).


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Design , Protease Inhibitors/pharmacology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Computer Simulation , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , Vero Cells
6.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(17)2021 Aug 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1379977

ABSTRACT

A novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been identified as the pathogen responsible for the outbreak of a severe, rapidly developing pneumonia (Coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19). The virus enzyme, called 3CLpro or main protease (Mpro), is essential for viral replication, making it a most promising target for antiviral drug development. Recently, we adopted the drug repurposing as appropriate strategy to give fast response to global COVID-19 epidemic, by demonstrating that the zonulin octapeptide inhibitor AT1001 (Larazotide acetate) binds Mpro catalytic domain. Thus, in the present study we tried to investigate the antiviral activity of AT1001, along with five derivatives, by cell-based assays. Our results provide with the identification of AT1001 peptide molecular framework for lead optimization step to develop new generations of antiviral agents of SARS-CoV-2 with an improved biological activity, expanding the chance for success in clinical trials.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Molecular Docking Simulation , Oligopeptides/chemistry , Peptides/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Binding Sites , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/virology , Catalytic Domain , Cell Line , Cytomegalovirus/drug effects , Drug Repositioning , Herpesvirus 3, Human/drug effects , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Peptides/chemical synthesis , Peptides/pharmacology , Peptides/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Viral Matrix Proteins/chemistry , Viral Matrix Proteins/metabolism
7.
Front Chem ; 8: 628609, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1058409

ABSTRACT

The most severe outcome of COVID-19 infection is the development of interstitial pneumonia causing acute lung injury (ALI) and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), both responsible for the infected patients' mortality. ALI and ARDS are characterized by a leakage of plasma components into the lungs, compromising their ability to expand and optimally engage in gas exchange with blood, resulting in respiratory failure. We have previously reported that zonulin, a protein dictating epithelial and endothelial permeability in several districts, including the airways, is involved in ALI pathogenesis in mouse models, and that its peptide inhibitor Larazotide acetate (also called AT1001) ameliorated ALI and subsequent mortality by decreasing mucosal permeability to fluid and extravasation of neutrophils into the lungs. With the recent crystallographic resolution of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro), an enzyme fundamental in the viral lifecycle, bound to peptidomimetic inhibitors N3 and 13b, we were able to perform molecular modeling investigation showing that AT1001 presents structural motifs similar to co-crystallized ligands. Specifically, molecular docking, MM-GBSA-based predictions and molecular dynamics showed that AT1001 docks extremely well in the Mpro catalytic domain through a global turn conformational arrangement without any unfavorable steric hindrance. Finally, we have observed that AT1001 can be superimposed onto the crystallized structures of N3 and 13b, establishing a higher number of interactions and accordingly a tighter binding. In vitro studies confirmed AT1001 anti-Mpro and preliminary investigation indicted an anti-viral activity. Combined, these studies suggest that AT1001, besides its well-demonstrated effect in ameliorating mucosal permeability in ALI/ARDS, may also exert a direct anti-SARS-CoV-2 effect by blocking the Mpro. AT1001 has been used extensively in a variety of animal models of ALI demonstrating robust safety and efficacy; it is currently in phase 3 trials in celiac subjects showing strong safety and efficacy profiles. We therefore propose its use as a specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 multitargeting treatment for the current pandemic.

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