Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Authors: Clarisse Salgado Benvindo da Silva et al.

Link to paper: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.06.081968

Journal/ Pre-Print: bioRxiv

Tags: Drug discovery/Drug repurpose, Therapeutics, Virology

Research Highlights 

1. The antiparasitic drug suramin inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and decreases viral load in cell culture

2. It acts on early steps of SARS-CoV-2 replication, likely viral entry.

3. Suramin demonstrates potent anti-viral efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in a primary human epithelial airway cell infection model.

Summary 

The study identifies the already approved antiparasitic drug suramin as a potential treatment against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Suramin protects Vero E6 cells from SARS-CoV-2 induced cytopathic effects and inhibits the virus with a selectivity index higher than 250. No severe toxicity was observed. Viral RNA (intracellular and extracellular) and infectious virus load was also reduced in cultured human lung epithelial cells (Calu-3). Post-infection assays indicated that an early step of the replication is inhibited, most likely preventing SARS-CoV-2 entry into cells. These findings were reproduced in primary human airway epithelial cell cultures, the most relevant ex vivo model for human coronavirus research

Impact for SARS-CoV2/COVID19 research efforts

Inhibit of SARS-CoV2/COVID19 transmission

Treat of SARS-CoV2/COVID19 positive individuals

Study Type

· In vitro study

Strengths and limitations of the paper

Novelty: The compound is already used as an anti-parasitic drug, but this paper first identifies suramin as an interesting candidate to further evaluate its potential for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2.

Standing in the field: Suramin is known to have broad-spectrum antiviral effects (amongst others on HIV and hepatitis C virus), whereby studies also reported the inhibition of virus entry or binding.

Appropriate statistics: Due to small samples size no statistical tests were performed.

Viral model used: Clinical isolate SARS-CoV-2/Leiden-002 (from a nasopharyngeal sample at LUMC).

Translatability: Suramin administration is required in the early stages of SARS-CoV-2 infection to inhibit infection and may protect lungs/other organs of already symptomatic patients. The standard treatment is done intravenously, but maybe even an aerosolized form could be considered (plenty of further studies needed).

Main limitations: Suramin functions in the early phase of infection, whereas the standard intravenous administration is more an option for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. Previous clinical trials of suramin were terminated owing to side-effects in patients. It is crucial to conduct many more tests before any conclusions on possible benefits for COVID-19 patients can be drawn.