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A Systems Biology Workflow for Drug and Vaccine Repurposing: Identifying Small-Molecule BCG Mimics to Reduce or Prevent COVID-19 Mortality

Authors
  • Hajjo, Rima1
  • Tropsha, Alexander2
  • 1 Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan, Amman, 11733, Jordan , Amman (Jordan)
  • 2 UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27599, USA , Chapel Hill (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Pharmaceutical Research
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Oct 06, 2020
Volume
37
Issue
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11095-020-02930-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

PurposeCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is expected to continue to cause worldwide fatalities until the World population develops ‘herd immunity’, or until a vaccine is developed and used as a prevention. Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to identify alternative means of antiviral defense. Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine that has been recognized for its off-target beneficial effects on the immune system can be exploited to boast immunity and protect from emerging novel viruses.MethodsWe developed and employed a systems biology workflow capable of identifying small-molecule antiviral drugs and vaccines that can boast immunity and affect a wide variety of viral disease pathways to protect from the fatal consequences of emerging viruses.ResultsOur analysis demonstrates that BCG vaccine affects the production and maturation of naïve T cells resulting in enhanced, long-lasting trained innate immune responses that can provide protection against novel viruses. We have identified small-molecule BCG mimics, including antiviral drugs such as raltegravir and lopinavir as high confidence hits. Strikingly, our top hits emetine and lopinavir were independently validated by recent experimental findings that these compounds inhibit the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.ConclusionsOur results provide systems biology support for using BCG and small-molecule BCG mimics as putative vaccine and drug candidates against emergent viruses including SARS-CoV-2.

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