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Journal: Antiviral research


Although several clinical trials are now underway to test possible therapies, the worldwide response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been largely limited to monitoring/containment. We report here that Ivermectin, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic previously shown to have broad-spectrum anti-viral activity in vitro, is an inhibitor of the causative virus (SARS-CoV-2), with a single addition to Vero-hSLAM cells 2 hours post infection with SARS-CoV-2 able to effect ∼5000-fold reduction in viral RNA at 48 h. Ivermectin therefore warrants further investigation for possible benefits in humans.


Recent publications have brought attention to the possible benefit of chloroquine, a broadly used antimalarial drug, in the treatment of patients infected by the novel emerged coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The scientific community should consider this information in light of previous experiments with chloroquine in the field of antiviral research.


In 2019, a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infecting Humans has emerged in Wuhan, China. Its genome has been sequenced and the genomic information promptly released. Despite a high similarity with the genome sequence of SARS-CoV and SARS-like CoVs, we identified a peculiar furin-like cleavage site in the Spike protein of the 2019-nCoV, lacking in the other SARS-like CoVs. In this article, we discuss the possible functional consequences of this cleavage site in the viral cycle, pathogenicity and its potential implication in the development of antivirals.


Cap-dependent endonuclease (CEN) resides in the PA subunit of the influenza virus and mediates the critical “cap-snatching” step of viral RNA transcription, which is considered to be a promising anti-influenza target. Here, we describe in vitro characterization of a novel CEN inhibitor, baloxavir acid (BXA), the active form of baloxavir marboxil (BXM). BXA inhibits viral RNA transcription via selective inhibition of CEN activity in enzymatic assays, and inhibits viral replication in infected cells without cytotoxicity in cytopathic effect assays. The antiviral activity of BXA is also confirmed in yield reduction assays with seasonal type A and B viruses, including neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant strains. Furthermore, BXA shows broad potency against various subtypes of influenza A viruses (H1N2, H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, H7N9 and H9N2). Additionally, serial passages of the viruses in the presence of BXA result in isolation of PA/I38T variants with reduced BXA susceptibility. Phenotypic and genotypic analyses with reverse genetics demonstrate the mechanism of BXA action via CEN inhibition in infected cells. These results reveal the in vitro characteristics of BXA and support clinical use of BXM to treat influenza.


An escalating pandemic by the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is impacting global health and effective therapeutic options are urgently needed. We evaluated the in vitro antiviral effect of compounds that were previously reported to inhibit coronavirus replication and compounds that are currently under evaluation in clinical trials for SARS-CoV-2 patients. We report the antiviral effect of remdesivir, lopinavir, homorringtonine, and emetine against SARS-CoV-2 virus in Vero E6 cells with the estimated 50% effective concentration at 23.15 μM, 26.63 μM, 2.55 μM and 0.46 μM, respectively. Ribavirin or favipiravir that are currently evaluated under clinical trials showed no inhibition at 100 μM. Synergy between remdesivir and emetine was observed, and remdesivir at 6.25 μM in combination with emetine at 0.195 μM may achieve 64.9% inhibition in viral yield. Combinational therapy may help to reduce the effective concentration of compounds below the therapeutic plasma concentrations and provide better clinical benefits.


ASP2151 (amenamevir) is a helicase-primase complex inhibitor with antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1, HSV-2, and varicella-zoster virus (VZV). To assess combination therapy of ASP2151 with existing antiherpes agents against HSV-1, HSV-2, and VZV, we conducted in vitro and in vivo studies of two-drug combinations. The combination activity effect of ASP2151 with nucleoside analogs acyclovir (ACV), penciclovir (PCV), or vidarabine (VDB) was tested via plaque-reduction assay and MTS assay, and the data were analyzed using isobolograms and response surface modeling. In vivo combination therapy of ASP2151 with valaciclovir (VACV) was studied in an HSV-1-infected zosteriform spread mouse model. The antiviral activity of ASP2151 combined with ACV and PCV against ACV-susceptible HSV-1, HSV-2, and VZV showed a statistically significant synergistic effect (P<0.05). ASP2151 with VDB was observed to have additive effects against ACV-susceptible HSV-2 and synergistic effects against VZV. In the mouse model of zosteriform spread, the inhibition of disease progression via combination therapy was more potent than that of either drugs as monotherapy (P<0.05). These results indicate that the combination therapies of ASP2151 with ACV and PCV have synergistic antiherpes effects against HSV and VZV infections and may be feasible in case of severe disease, such as herpes encephalitis or in patients with immunosuppression.

Concepts: Virus, Herpes simplex virus, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex, Encephalitis, Virus latency, Herpes zoster, Alphaherpesvirinae


We designed a series of epitope proteins containing the G-H loops of three topotypes of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) serotype O and promiscuous artificial Th sites and selected one epitope protein (designated as B4) with optimal immunogenicity and cross-reactivity. Three out of five pigs immunized intramuscularly with this B4 were protected against virulent FMDV challenge after a single inoculation, while all pigs co-immunized with B4 and polyinosinic-cytidylic acid [poly (I: C)] conferred complete protection following FMDV challenge. Additionally, we demonstrated that all pigs co-immunized with B4 and poly (I: C) elicited FMDV-specific neutralizing antibodies, total IgG antibodies, typeIinterferon (IFN-α/β) and cytokines IFN-γ. In contrast, some pigs immunized with B4 alone produced parameters mentioned above, while some not, suggesting that poly (I: C) reduced animal-to-animal variations in both cellular and humoral responses often observed in association with epitope-based vaccines and up-regulated T-cell immunity often poorly observed in protein-based vaccines. We propose that poly (I: C) is an effective adjuvant for this epitope-based vaccine of FMDV. This combination could yield an effective and safe candidate vaccine for the control and eradication of FMD in pigs.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Vaccination, Immunology, Smallpox, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease


Sequential sampling from animals challenged with highly pathogenic organisms, such as haemorrhagic fever viruses, is required for many pharmaceutical studies. Using the guinea pig model of Ebola virus infection, a catheterized system was used which had the benefits of allowing repeated sampling of the same cohort of animals, and also a reduction in the use of sharps at high biological containment. Levels of a PS-targeting antibody (Bavituximab) were measured in Ebola-infected animals and uninfected controls. Data showed that the pharmacokinetics were similar in both groups, therefore Ebola virus infection did not have an observable effect on the half-life of the antibody.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Organism, Microbiology, Virus, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever


Receptor recognition is a major determinant of the host range, cross-species infections, and pathogenesis of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). A defined receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the SARS-CoV spike protein specifically recognizes its host receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). This article reviews the latest knowledge about how RBDs from different SARS-CoV strains interact with ACE2 from several animal species. Detailed research on these RBD/ACE2 interactions has established important principles on host receptor adaptations, cross-species infections, and future evolution of SARS-CoV. These principles may apply to other emerging animal viruses, including the recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This paper forms part of a series of invited articles in Antiviral Research on “From SARS to MERS: 10years of research on highly pathogenic human coronaviruses”.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Bacteria, Virus, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS coronavirus, Coronavirus, Nidovirales


The dengue fever virus (DENV) and the yellow fever virus (YFV) are members of the genus flavivirus in the family Flaviviridae. An estimated 50 to 100 million cases of DENV infections occur each year and approximately half a million patients require hospitalization. There is no vaccine or effective antiviral treatment available. There is an urgent need for potent and safe inhibitors of DENV replication; ideally such compounds should have broad-spectrum activity against flaviviruses. We here report on the in vitro activity of 3',5'di-O-trityluridine on flavivirus replication. The compound results in a dose-dependent inhibition of (i) DENV- and YFV-induced cytopathic effect (CPE) (EC50 values in the low micromolar range for the 4 DENV serotypes), (ii) RNA replication (DENV-2 EC50= 1.5 μM; YFV-17D EC50= 0.83 μM) and (iii) viral antigen production. Antiviral activity was also demonstrated in DENV subgenomic replicons (which do not encode the structural viral proteins) (EC50= 2.3 μM), indicating that the compound inhibits intracellular events of the viral replication cycle. Preliminary data indicate that the molecule may inhibit the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.

Concepts: Virus, RNA, Malaria, Yellow fever, RNA polymerase, Fever, Dengue fever, Flaviviridae