Novel compound protects against infection by virus that causes COVID-19, preliminary studies show.

Original article from Dana-farber newsroom. Posted date

  • Stapled lipopeptides successfully deter infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduce the severity of COVID-19 in tests with hamsters
  • Clinical trial now under way of compound’s effectiveness as a nasal spray in humans
  • Approach has the potential to be effective against a wide range of harmful viruses

Compounds that obstruct the “landing gear” of a range of harmful viruses can successfully protect against infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, a study published today and led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists shows. Based on the findings, researchers have launched a human clinical trial of one such compound made by chemically stabilizing a key coronavirus peptide.

If the compound, called a stapled lipopeptide, proves effective as a nasal spray in the trial, it could be the basis for a new drug modality to prevent or treat COVID-19, say the authors of the study, posted online today in the journal Nature Communications. Because such compounds foil a mechanism used by many types of viruses to enter and infect cells, stapled lipopeptides may also be effective against dangerous and potentially deadly viruses such as RSV, Ebola, and Nipah, as the authors also demonstrate in their study.

“Although vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and small molecule drugs have played a crucial role in protecting people from life-threatening COVID-19 infection, there remains a critical gap in the treatment arsenal,” says Loren Walensky, MD, PhD,Physician and Principal Investigator, Linde Program in Cancer Chemical Biology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He led the research with Gregory Bird, PhD, of Dana-Farber and Robert Davey, PhD, of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL).

“The constant evolution of the virus and the emergence of new variants has markedly decreased the effectiveness of immune-based approaches, requiring periodic reformulation of vaccines. What has been missing are fast-acting, easy-to-administer, and resistance-proof agents that can be used before or after exposure to the virus to directly prevent infection or reduce symptoms. Our study is an encouraging indication that stapled lipopeptides offer that potential,” Walensky added.

Click to read the full article at Dana Faber Cancer Institute and Publications.