1. bookVolume 71 (2021): Issue 2 (June 2021)
Journal Details
First Published
28 Feb 2007
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
access type Open Access

Identification of potential COVID-19 main protease inhibitors using structure-based pharmacophore approach, molecular docking and repurposing studies

Published Online: 04 Nov 2020
Page range: 163 - 174
Accepted: 02 Jun 2020
Journal Details
First Published
28 Feb 2007
Publication timeframe
4 times per year

The current outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections urges the need to identify potential therapeutic agents. Therefore, the repurposing of FDA-approved drugs against today’s diseases involves the use of de-risked compounds with potentially lower costs and shorter development timelines. In this study, the recently resolved X-ray crystallographic structure of COVID-19 main protease (Mpro) was used to generate a pharmacophore model and to conduct a docking study to capture antiviral drugs as new promising COVID-19 main protease inhibitors. The developed pharmacophore successfully captured five FDA-approved antiviral drugs (lopinavir, remdesivir, ritonavir, saquinavir and raltegravir). The five drugs were successfully docked into the binding site of COVID-19 Mpro and showed several specific binding interactions that were comparable to those tying the co-crystallized inhibitor X77 inside the binding site of COVID-19 Mpro. Three of the captured drugs namely, remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavir, were reported to have promising results in COVID-19 treatment and therefore increases the confidence in our results. Our findings suggest an additional possible mechanism of action for remdesivir as an antiviral drug inhibiting COVID-19 Mpro. Additionally, a combination of structure-based pharmacophore modeling with a docking study is expected to facilitate the discovery of novel COVID-19 Mpro inhibitors.


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