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Anti-Infective Agents


ISSN (Print): 2211-3525
ISSN (Online): 2211-3533

Research Article

Hierarchical Virtual Screening of SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease Potential Inhibitors: Similarity Search, Pharmacophore Modeling, and Molecular Docking Study

Author(s): Huda Mando* and Iyad Allous

Volume 22, Issue 4, 2024

Published on: 31 January, 2024

Article ID: e310124226577 Pages: 15

DOI: 10.2174/0122113525280410240106122715

Price: $65


Background: The outbreak of COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 (SARS-CoV-2) resulted in a widespread pandemic. Various approaches involved the repositioning of antiviral remedies and other medications. Several therapies, including oral antiviral treatments, represent some approaches to adapting to the long existence of the COVID-19 pandemic. In silico studies provide valuable insights throughout drug discovery and development in compliance with global efforts to overcome the pandemic. The main protease is an essential target in the viral cycle. Computer-aided drug design accelerates the identification of potential treatments, including oral therapy.

Aims: This work aims to identify potential SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors using different aspects of in silico approaches.

Methods: In this work, we conducted a hierarchical virtual screening of SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors. A similarity search was conducted to screen molecules similar to the inhibitor PF-07321332. Concurrently, structure-based pharmacophores, besides ligand-based pharmacophores, were derived. A drug-likeness filter filtered the compounds retrieved from similarity search and pharmacophore modeling before being subjected to molecular docking. The candidate molecules that showed higher affinity to the main protease than the reference inhibitor were further filtered by absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) parameters.

Results: According to binding affinity and ADME analysis, four molecules (CHEMBL218022, PubChem163362029, PubChem166149100, and PubChem 162396459) were prioritized as promising hits. The compounds above were not reported before; no previous experimental studies and bioactive assays are available.

Conclusion: Our time-saving approach represents a strategy for discovering novel SARS-CoV- 2 main protease inhibitors. The ultimate hits may be nominated as leads in discovering novel SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors.

Keywords: Pharmacophore, docking, drug-likeness, ADME, virtual screening, SARs-CoV-2.

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