Health News

Study shows that hepatitis C drug EPCLUSA has the potential to inhibit coronaviruses

Columbia Engineering researchers have been developing strategies to cope with the new strain of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, that has caused a global public health emergency.

In their latest study, “Nucleotide analogues as inhibitors of viral polymerases,” posted now in bioRxiv, the researchers recognized that the hepatitis C virus and coronaviruses use a similar viral genome replication mechanism, and thus reasoned that EPCLUSA (Sofosbuvir/Velpatasvir), the FDA-approved drug for hepatitis C, should also inhibit 2019-nCoV.

To develop broad spectrum anti-viral agents to attack these viruses, the Columbia team conceived a novel strategy to design and synthesize viral polymerase inhibitors: to combine the approach used to develop Sofosbuvir with the 3′-blocking groups that the team previously built into nucleotide analogues that function as polymerase terminators.

The research team, led by Jingyue Ju, Samuel Ruben-Peter G. Viele Professor of Engineering, has been in touch with the US Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

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