Computational Models Identify Several FDA Approved or Experimental Drugs as Putative Agents Against SARS-CoV-2

The outbreak of a novel human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has evolved into global health emergency, infecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. We have identified experimental data on the inhibitory activity of compounds tested against closely related (96% sequence identity, 100% active site conservation) protease of SARS-CoV and employed this data to build QSAR models for this dataset. We employed these models for virtual screening of all drugs from DrugBank, including compounds in clinical trials. Molecular docking and similarity search approaches were explored in parallel with QSAR modeling, but molecular docking failed to correctly discriminate between experimentally active and inactive compounds. As a result of our studies, we recommended 41 approved, experimental, or investigational drugs as potential agents against SARS-CoV-2 acting as putative inhibitors of Mpro. Ten compounds with feasible prices were purchased and are awaiting the experimental validation.