Identification of existing pharmaceuticals and herbal medicines as inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 infection

COVID-19 is a global pandemic currently lacking an effective cure. We used a cell-based infection assay to screen more than 3,000 agents used in humans and animals and identified 15 with antiinfective activity, ranging from 0.1 nM to 50 μM. We then used in vitro enzymatic assays combined with computer modeling to confirm the activity of those against the viral protease and RNA polymerase. In addition, several herbal medicines were found active in the cell-based infection assay. To further evaluate the efficacy of these promising compounds in animal models, we developed a challenge assay with hamsters and found that mefloquine, nelfinavir, and extracts of Ganoderma lucidum (RF3), Perilla frutescens, and Mentha haplocalyx were effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

https://www.pnas.org/content/118/5/e2021579118