The FDA-approved drug cobicistat synergizes with remdesivir to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication

0 views • Nov 5, 2021


Author Name

Iart Luca Shytaj

Mohamed Fares

Bojana Lucic

Lara Gallucci

Mahmoud M. Tolba

Liv Zimmermann

Ahmed T. Ayoub


Mirko Cortese

Vibor Laketa

Petr Chlanda

Steeve Boulant

Megan Stanifer

Andrea Savarino

Marina Lusic

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Combinations of direct-acting antivirals are needed to minimize drug-resistance mutations and stably suppress replication of RNA viruses. Currently, there are limited therapeutic options against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and testing of a number of drug regimens has led to conflicting results. Here we show that cobicistat, which is an-FDA approved drug-booster that blocks the activity of the drug metabolizing proteins Cytochrome P450-3As (CYP3As) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp), inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication. Cell-to-cell membrane fusion assays indicated that the antiviral effect of cobicistat is exerted through inhibition of spike protein-mediated membrane fusion. In line with this, incubation with low micromolar concentrations of cobicistat decreased viral replication in three different cell lines including cells of lung and gut origin. When cobicistat was used in combination with the putative CYP3A target and nucleoside analog remdesivir, a synergistic effect on the inhibition of viral replication was observed in cell lines and in a primary human colon organoid. The cobicistat/remdesivir combination was able to potently abate viral replication to levels comparable to mock-infected cells leading to an almost complete rescue of infected cell viability. These data highlight cobicistat as a therapeutic candidate for treating SARS-CoV-2 infection and as a potential building block of combination therapies for COVID-19.

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