Brilacidin Demonstrates Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 in Cell Culture

Viruses. 2021 Feb 9;13(2):271. doi: 10.3390/v13020271.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the newly emergent causative agent of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), has resulted in more than two million deaths worldwide since it was first detected in 2019. There is a critical global need for therapeutic intervention strategies that can be deployed to safely treat COVID-19 disease and reduce associated morbidity and mortality. Increasing evidence shows that both natural and synthetic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), also referred to as Host Defense Proteins/Peptides (HDPs), can inhibit SARS-CoV-2, paving the way for the potential clinical use of these molecules as therapeutic options. In this manuscript, we describe the potent antiviral activity exerted by brilacidin-a de novo designed synthetic small molecule that captures the biological properties of HDPs-on SARS-CoV-2 in a human lung cell line (Calu-3) and a monkey cell line (Vero). These data suggest that SARS-CoV-2 inhibition in these cell culture models is likely to be a result of the impact of brilacidin on viral entry and its disruption of viral integrity. Brilacidin demonstrated synergistic antiviral activity when combined with remdesivir. Collectively, our data demonstrate that brilacidin exerts potent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 against different strains of the virus in cell culture.

Keywords: antiviral; brilacidin; coronavirus; defensin; entry inhibition; peptidomimetic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Monophosphate / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / pharmacology
  • Alanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Alanine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • COVID-19 / drug therapy*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Defensins / pharmacology
  • Guanidines / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Peptidomimetics / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Vero Cells
  • Virus Internalization / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Defensins
  • Guanidines
  • Peptidomimetics
  • Pyrimidines
  • remdesivir
  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • brilacidin
  • Alanine