Learning from the Past: Possible Urgent Prevention and Treatment Options for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Caused by 2019-nCoV

With the current trajectory of the 2019-nCoV outbreak unknown, public health and medicinal measures will both be needed to contain spreading of the virus and to optimize patient outcomes. While little is known about the virus, an examination of the genome sequence shows strong homology with its more well-studied cousin, SARS-CoV. The spike protein used for host cell infection shows key nonsynonymous mutations which may hamper efficacy of previously developed therapeutics but remains a viable target for the development of biologics and macrocyclic peptides. Other key drug targets, including RdRp and 3CLpro, share a strikingly high (>95%) homology to SARS-CoV. Herein, we suggest 4 potential drug candidates (an ACE2-based peptide, remdesivir, 3CLpro-1 and a novel vinylsulfone protease inhibitor) that can be used to treat patients suffering with the 2019-nCoV. We also summarize previous efforts into drugging these targets and hope to help in the development of broad spectrum anti-coronaviral agents for future epidemics.