|Posted on July 17, 2021 at 11:50 AM|
Jose M. Jimenez-Guardeño, Ana Maria Ortega-Prieto, Borja Menendez Moreno, Thomas J.A. Maguire, Juan Ignacio Diaz-Hernandez, Javier Diez Perez, Mark Zuckerman, Albert Mercadal Playa, Carlos Cordero Deline, Michael H. Malim, Rocio T Martinez-Nunez
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to identify new therapeutics at pace, including through drug repurposing. We employed a Quadratic Unbounded Binary Optimization (QUBO) model, to search for compounds similar to Remdesivir (RDV), the only antiviral against SARS-CoV-2 currently approved for human use, using a quantum-inspired device. We modelled RDV and compounds present in the DrugBank database as graphs, established the optimal parameters in our algorithm and resolved the Maximum Weighted Independent Set problem within the conflict graph generated. We also employed a traditional Tanimoto fingerprint model. The two methods yielded different lists of compounds, with some overlap. While GS-6620 was the top compound predicted by both models, the QUBO model predicted BMS-986094 as second best. The Tanimoto model predicted different forms of cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12. We then determined the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values in cell culture models of SARS-CoV-2 infection and assessed cytotoxicity. Lastly, we demonstrated efficacy against several variants including SARS-CoV-2 Strain England 2 (England 02/2020/407073), B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta) and B.1.617.2 (Delta). Our data reveal that BMS-986094 and different forms of vitamin B12 are effective at inhibiting replication of all these variants of SARS-CoV-2. While BMS-986094 can cause secondary effects in humans as established by phase II trials, these findings suggest that vitamin B12 deserves consideration as a SARS-CoV-2 antiviral, particularly given its extended use and lack of toxicity in humans, and its availability and affordability. Our screening method can be employed in future searches for novel pharmacologic inhibitors, thus providing an approach for accelerating drug deployment...