Molnupiravir combined with different repurposed drugs further inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection in human nasal epithelium in vitro

Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Jun;150:113058. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.113058. Epub 2022 May 2.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a worldwide pandemic with unprecedented economic and societal impact. Currently, several vaccines are available and multitudes of antiviral treatments have been proposed and tested. Although many of the vaccines show clinical efficacy, they are not equally accessible worldwide. Additionally, due to the continuous emergence of new variants and generally short duration of immunity, the development of effective antiviral treatments remains of the utmost importance. Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, substantial efforts have been undertaken to repurpose existing drugs for accelerated clinical testing and emergency use authorizations. However, drug-repurposing studies using cellular assays often identify hits that later prove ineffective clinically, highlighting the need for more complex screening models. To this end, we evaluated the activity of single compounds that have either been tested clinically or already undergone extensive preclinical profiling, using a standardized in vitro model of human nasal epithelium. Furthermore, we also evaluated drug combinations based on a sub-maximal concentration of molnupiravir. We report the antiviral activity of 95 single compounds and 30 combinations. We show that only a few single agents are highly effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 replication while selected drug combinations containing 10 µM molnupiravir boosted antiviral activity compared to single compound treatment. These data indicate that molnupiravir-based combinations are worthy of further consideration as potential treatment strategies against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Keywords: Air-liquid interface; Antivirals; COVID-19; Drug repurposing; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Cytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Nasal Mucosa
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Cytidine
  • molnupiravir