Repurposing FDA-Approved Drugs for COVID-19 Using a Data-Driven Approach

There have been more than 116,000 recorded deaths worldwide to-date caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and over 1.8 million individuals are currently infected. Although there are now hundreds of clinical trials for COVID-19, there are currently no effective licensed treatments, while the numbers of infected individuals continue to rise at an exponential rate in many parts of the world. Here, we used a data-driven approach utilizing connectivity mapping and the transcriptional signature of lung carcinoma cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, to search for drugs across the spectrum of medicine that have repurposing potential for treating COVID-19. We also performed chemoinformatic analyses to test whether the identified compounds were predicted to physically interact with the SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase or main protease enzymes. Our study identified commonly prescribed FDA-approved molecules as important candidates for drug repositioning against COVID-19, including flupentixol, reserpine, fluoxetine, trifluoperazine, sunitinib, atorvastatin, raloxifene, butoconazole, and metformin. These drugs should not be taken for treating or preventing COVID-19 without a doctor’s advice, as further research and clinical trials are now needed to elucidate their efficacy for this purpose.