Identification of the FDA-Approved Drug Pyrvinium as a Novel Inhibitor of PD-1/PD-L1 Interaction

19 April 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Immune checkpoint blockade involving inhibition of the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction has provided unprecedented clinical benefits in treating a variety of tumors. To date, a total of six antibodies that bind to either PD-1 or PD-L1 protein and in turn inhibit the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction have received clinical approvals. Despite being highly effective, these expensive large biotherapeutics possess several inherent pharmacokinetic limitations that can be successfully overcome through the use of low-molecular-weight inhibitors. One such promising approach involves small-molecule induced dimerization and sequestration of PD-L1, leading to effective PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition. Herein, we present discovery of such potential bioactive PD-L1 dimerizers through a structure- and ligand-based screening of a focused library of approved and investigational drugs worldwide. The most promising compound Pyrvinium, an FDA-approved anthelmintic drug, showed IC50 value of ~29.66 µM. It is noteworthy that Pyrvinium, being an approved drug, may prove especially suitable as a good starting point for further medicinal chemistry efforts, leading to design and development of even more potent structural analogs as selective PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors. Furthermore, the adopted integrated virtual screening protocol may prove useful in screening other larger databases of lead- and drug-like molecules for hit identification in the domain of small-molecule PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors.


Immune checkpoint blockade
PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors
small-molecule drug discovery

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information Patil


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.