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In Scientific reports ; h5-index 158.0

After over two years of living with Covid-19 and hundreds of million cases worldwide there is still an unmet need to find proper treatments for the novel coronavirus, due also to the rapid mutation of its genome. In this context, a drug repositioning study has been performed, using in silico tools targeting Delta Spike protein/ACE2 interface. To this aim, it has been virtually screened a library composed by 4388 approved drugs through a deep learning-based QSAR model to identify protein-protein interactions modulators for molecular docking against Spike receptor binding domain (RBD). Binding energies of predicted complexes were calculated by Molecular Mechanics/Generalized Born Surface Area from docking and molecular dynamics simulations. Four out of the top twenty ranking compounds showed stable binding modes on Delta Spike RBD and were evaluated also for their effectiveness against Omicron. Among them an antihistaminic drug, fexofenadine, revealed very low binding energy, stable complex, and interesting interactions with Delta Spike RBD. Several antihistaminic drugs were found to exhibit direct antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, and their mechanisms of action is still debated. This study not only highlights the potential of our computational methodology for a rapid screening of variant-specific drugs, but also represents a further tool for investigating properties and mechanisms of selected drugs.

Pirolli Davide, Righino Benedetta, Camponeschi Chiara, Ria Francesco, Di Sante Gabriele, De Rosa Maria Cristina