In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found repurposed drugs for COVID-19 treatment through virtual screening and cell-based assays.
They suggested the strategy for virtual screening will help develop medications for COVID-19 and other antiviral diseases more rapidly.
The study is from KAIST and Institut Pasteur Korea. One author is Woo Dae Jang.
Drug repurposing is a practical strategy for developing antiviral drugs in a short period of time, especially during a global pandemic. In many instances, drug repurposing starts with the virtual screening of approved drugs.
However, the actual hit rate of virtual screening is low and most of the predicted drugs are false positives.
In the study, the team screened 6,218 drugs from a collection of FDA-approved drugs or those under clinical trial and found 38 repurposed drugs for COVID-19.
Among them, seven compounds inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in Vero cells. Three of these drugs, emodin, omipalisib, and tipifarnib, showed anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in human lung cells.
The team developed effective filtering algorithms before and after the docking simulations to improve the hit rates.
The experimental results showed that the virtual screening strategy reached a high hit rate of 18.4%, leading to the identification of seven potential drugs out of the 38 drugs initially selected.
The team says the most important part of this research is that they developed a platform technology that can rapidly identify novel compounds for COVID-19 treatment.
If researchers use this technology, they will be able to quickly respond to new infectious diseases as well as variants of the coronavirus.
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