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Drug repurposing screens reveal FDA approved drugs active against SARS-Cov-2

By Mark Dittmar, Jae Seung Lee, Kanupriya Whig, Elisha Segrist, Minghua Li, Kellie Jurado, Kirandeep Samby, Holly Ramage, David Schultz, Sara Cherry

Posted 19 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.19.161042

There are an urgent need for antivirals to treat the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2. To identify new candidates we screened a repurposing library of ~3,000 drugs. Screening in Vero cells found few antivirals, while screening in human Huh7.5 cells validated 23 diverse antiviral drugs. Extending our studies to lung epithelial cells, we found that there are major differences in drug sensitivity and entry pathways used by SARS-CoV-2 in these cells. Entry in lung epithelial Calu-3 cells is pH-independent and requires TMPRSS2, while entry in Vero and Huh7.5 cells requires low pH and triggering by acid-dependent endosomal proteases. Moreover, we found 9 drugs are antiviral in lung cells, 7 of which have been tested in humans, and 3 are FDA approved including Cyclosporine which we found is targeting Cyclophilin rather than Calcineurin for its antiviral activity. These antivirals reveal essential host targets and have the potential for rapid clinical implementation. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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