Simeprevir Potently Suppresses SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Synergizes with Remdesivir

ACS Cent Sci. 2021 May 26;7(5):792-802. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.0c01186. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a global threat to human health. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we identified and validated the hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor simeprevir as an especially promising repurposable drug for treating COVID-19. Simeprevir potently reduces SARS-CoV-2 viral load by multiple orders of magnitude and synergizes with remdesivir in vitro. Mechanistically, we showed that simeprevir not only inhibits the main protease (Mpro) and unexpectedly the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) but also modulates host immune responses. Our results thus reveal the possible anti-SARS-CoV-2 mechanism of simeprevir and highlight the translational potential of optimizing simeprevir as a therapeutic agent for managing COVID-19 and future outbreaks of CoV.