Drug Repurposing Approach against Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) through Virtual Screening Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease

Biology (Basel). 2020 Dec 23;10(1):2. doi: 10.3390/biology10010002.


Novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was identified from China in December 2019 and spread rapidly through human-to-human transmission, affecting so many people worldwide. Until now, there has been no specific treatment against the disease and repurposing of the drug. Our investigation aimed to screen potential inhibitors against coronavirus for the repurposing of drugs. Our study analyzed sequence comparison among SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and MERS-CoV to determine the identity matrix using discovery studio. SARS-CoV-2 Mpro was targeted to generate an E-pharmacophore hypothesis to screen drugs from the DrugBank database having similar features. Promising drugs were used for docking-based virtual screening at several precisions. Best hits from virtual screening were subjected to MM/GBSA analysis to evaluate binding free energy, followed by the analysis of binding interactions. Furthermore, the molecular dynamics simulation approaches were carried out to assess the docked complex's conformational stability. A total of 33 drug classes were found from virtual screening based on their docking scores. Among them, seven potential drugs with several anticancer, antibiotic, and immunometabolic categories were screened and showed promising MM/GBSA scores. During interaction analysis, these drugs exhibited different types of hydrogen and hydrophobic interactions with amino acid residue. Besides, 17 experimental drugs selected from virtual screening might be crucial for drug discovery against COVID-19. The RMSD, RMSF, SASA, Rg, and MM/PBSA descriptors from molecular dynamics simulation confirmed the complex's firm nature. Seven promising drugs for repurposing against SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro), namely sapanisertib, ornidazole, napabucasin, lenalidomide, daniquidone, indoximod, and salicylamide, could be vital for the treatment of COVID-19. However, extensive in vivo and in vitro studies are required to evaluate the mentioned drug's activity.

Keywords: COVID-19; E-pharmacophore hypothesis; antiviral agents; drug repurposing; molecular docking; molecular dynamics; virtual screening.