TitleComputational search for potential COVID-19 drugs from FDAapproved drugs and small molecules of natural origin identifies several anti-virals and plant products.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSharma A, Tiwari V, Sowdhamini R
JournalJ Biosci
Date Published2020

The world is currently facing the COVID-19 pandemic, for which mild symptoms include fever and dry cough. In severe cases, it could lead to pneumonia and ultimately death in some instances. Moreover, the causative pathogen is highly contagious and there are no drugs or vaccines for it yet. The pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, is one of the human coronaviruses which was identified to infect humans first in December 2019. SARS-CoV-2 shares evolutionary relationship to other highly pathogenic viruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). We have exploited this similarity to model a target non-structural protein, NSP1, since it is implicated in the regulation of host gene expression by the virus and hijacking of host machinery. We next interrogated the capacity to repurpose around 2300 FDA-approved drugs and more than 3,00,000 small molecules of natural origin towards drug identification through virtual screening and molecular dynamics. Interestingly, we observed simple molecules like lactose, previously known anti-virals and few secondary metabolites of plants as promising hits. These herbal plants are already practiced in Ayurveda over centuries to treat respiratory problems and inflammation. Disclaimer: we would not like to recommend uptake of these small molecules for suspect COVID patients until it is approved by competent national or international authorities.

Alternate JournalJ. Biosci.
PubMed ID32713863