Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. Presently, there are no clinically approved drugs for COVID-19. Hence, there is an urgent need to accelerate the development of effective antivirals. Herein, we discovered Clioquinol (5-chloro-7-iodo-8-quinolinol (CLQ)), a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug, and two of its analogues (7-bromo-5-chloro-8-hydroxyquinoline (CLBQ14); and 5, 7-Dichloro-8-hydroxyquinoline (CLCQ)) as potent inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 infection-induced cytopathic effect in vitro. In addition, all three compounds showed potent anti-exopeptidase activity against recombinant human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (rhACE2) and inhibited the binding of rhACE2 with SARS-CoV-2 Spike (RBD) protein. CLQ displayed the highest potency in the low micromolar range, with its antiviral activity showing a strong correlation with inhibition of rhACE2 and rhACE2-RBD interaction. Altogether, our findings provide a new mode of action and molecular target for CLQ and validates this pharmacophore as a promising lead series for the clinical development of potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
Olaleye, Omonike A.; Kaur, Manvir; Onyenaka, Collins; and Adebusuyi, Tolulope, "Discovery of Clioquinol and analogues as novel inhibitors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 infection, ACE2 and ACE2 - Spike protein interaction in vitro" (2021). Faculty Publications. 30.