Scientists race against the clock testing existing drugs to fight COVID-19

Artist rendering of the novel coronavirus Artist rendering of the novel coronavirus

A group of scientists from across the world, including Kevan Shokat (Ph.D. ’91, Chem) , UC Berkeley Professor of Chemistry and Director of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF has joined forces with Brian Shoichet and Nevan J. Krogan, also of UCSF, to coordinate preliminary testing on dozens of already-existing drugs that may be able to treat the new coronavirus.

Shokat’s lab reviewed 20,000 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for signs that they may interact with the proteins on the map created by members of his lab. Nearly 70 drugs and experimental compounds were found to be potenially effective in treating the coronavirus.

The list of drug candidates appeared in a study posted to the science prepublication webserver bioRxiv on March 22, 2020. The research has been submitted to the Journal Nature for publication.  According to the article’s abstract:

There are currently no antiviral drugs with proven efficacy nor are there vaccines for its [novel coronavirus] prevention. … we cloned, tagged and expressed 26 of the 29 viral proteins in human cells and identified the human proteins physically associated with each using affinity-purification mass spectrometry (AP-MS), which identified 332 high confidence SARS-CoV-2-human protein-protein interactions (PPIs). Among these, we identify 66 druggable human proteins or host factors targeted by 69 existing FDA-approved drugs, drugs in clinical trials and/or preclinical

Read more about this international effort here: