Sheahan TP, Sims AC, Leist SR, Schäfer A, Won J, Brown AJ, Montgomery SA, Hogg A, Babusis D, Clarke MO, Spahn JE, Bauer L, Sellers S, Porter D, Feng JY, Cihlar T, Jordan R, Denison MR, Baric RS. Comparative therapeutic efficacy of remdesivir and combination lopinavir, ritonavir, and interferon beta against MERS-CoV. Nature communications. 2020 Jan 10;11(11). 222 p. PMID: 31924756 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC6954302
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is the causative agent of a severe respiratory disease associated with more than 2468 human infections and over 851 deaths in 27 countries since 2012. There are no approved treatments for MERS-CoV infection although a combination of lopinavir, ritonavir and interferon beta (LPV/RTV-IFNb) is currently being evaluated in humans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Here, we show that remdesivir (RDV) and IFNb have superior antiviral activity to LPV and RTV in vitro. In mice, both prophylactic and therapeutic RDV improve pulmonary function and reduce lung viral loads and severe lung pathology. In contrast, prophylactic LPV/RTV-IFNb slightly reduces viral loads without impacting other disease parameters. Therapeutic LPV/RTV-IFNb improves pulmonary function but does not reduce virus replication or severe lung pathology. Thus, we provide in vivo evidence of the potential for RDV to treat MERS-CoV infections.