Recurrent waves of COVID19 remain a major global health concern. Repurposing either FDA-approved or clinically advanced drug candidates can save time and effort required for validating the safety profile and FDA approval. However, the selection of appropriate screening approaches is key to identifying novel candidate drugs with a higher probability of clinical success. Here, we report a rapid, stratified two-step screening approach using pseudovirus entry inhibition assay followed by an infectious prototypic SARS CoV2 cytotoxic effect inhibition assay in multiple cell lines. Using this approach, we screened a library of FDA-approved and clinical-stage drugs and identified four compounds, apilimod, berbamine, cepharanthine and (S)-crizotinib which potently inhibited SARS CoV2-induced cell death. Importantly, these drugs exerted similar inhibitory effect on the delta and omicron variants although they replicated less efficiently than the prototypic strain. Apilimod is currently under clinical trial (NCT04446377) for COVID19 supporting the validity and robustness of our screening approach.
Keywords: Anti-viral drug repurposing; Delta; Omicron; SARS CoV2.
Published by Elsevier Inc.