Protoporphyrin IX and verteporfin prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and in a mouse model expressing human ACE2
Posted 01 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.30.071290
Posted 01 May 2020
The SARS-CoV-2 infection is spreading rapidly worldwide. Efficacious antiviral therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed. Here, we discovered that protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) and verteporfin, two FDA-approved drugs, completely inhibited the cytopathic effect produced by SARS-CoV-2 infection at 1.25 μM and 0.31 μM respectively, and their EC50 values of reduction of viral RNA were at nanomolar concentrations. The selectivity indices of PpIX and verteporfin were 952.74 and 368.93, respectively, suggesting broad margin of safety. Importantly, PpIX and verteporfin prevented SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice adenovirally transduced with human ACE2. The compounds, sharing a porphyrin ring structure, were shown to bind viral receptor ACE2 and interfere with the interaction between ACE2 and the receptor-binding domain of viral S protein. Our study suggests that PpIX and verteporfin are potent antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 infection and sheds new light on developing novel chemoprophylaxis and chemotherapy against SARS-CoV-2. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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