The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 continues to pose a great threat to public health while various vaccines are available worldwide. Main protease (Mpro) has been validated as an effective anti-COVID-19 drug target. Using medicinal chemistry and rational drug design strategies, we identified a quinazolin-4-one series of nonpeptidic, noncovalent SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors based on baicalein, 5,6,7-trihydroxy-2-phenyl-4H-chromen-4-one. In particular, compound C7 exhibits superior inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro relative to baicalein (IC50 = 0.085 ± 0.006 and 0.966 ± 0.065 μM, respectively), as well as improved physicochemical and drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) properties. In addition, C7 inhibits viral replication in SARS-CoV-2-infected Vero E6 cells more effectively than baicalein (EC50 = 1.10 ± 0.12 and 5.15 ± 1.64 μM, respectively) with low cytotoxicity (CC50 > 50 μM). An X-ray co-crystal structure reveals a non-covalent mechanism of action, and a noncanonical binding mode not observed by baicalein. These results suggest that C7 represents a promising lead for development of more effective SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors and anti-COVID-19 drugs.

Fuente: European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Available online 24 May 2023