Gold Metallodrugs to Fight the Corona Virus: Inhibitory Effects on the SpikeACE2 Interaction and on PLpro Protease Activity by Auranofin and Gold Organometallics

Gold complexes have a long tradition in medicine and for many examples antirheumatic, anticancer or anti-infective effects have been confirmed. Here we evaluated the lead compound Auranofin and five selected gold organometallics as inhibitors of two relevant drug targets of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoV). The gold metallodrugs were effective inhibitors of the interaction of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) host receptor and might thus interfere with the viral entry process. The gold metallodrugs were also efficient inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-1 papain-like protease (PLpro), which is a key enzyme in the viral replication. Taken together, the results of this pilot study suggest further evaluation of gold complexes as SARS-CoV antiviral drugs.