Coronavirus Information

Last updated: 5th Oct 2020

Given the novelty of SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19), and the lack of proven therapies, a wide variety of strategies are being employed to combat this worldwide epidemic. Many of these emerging strategies rely on repurposing existing drugs, and others are completely new, but all rely on existing scientific evidence of mechanistic approaches that are effective against either similar viral infections or the serious symptoms that are caused by COVID-19.

  • The effects of existing antiviral medications are being evaluated
  • The inflammatory aspects of the disease are being targeted using existing medications including glucocorticoids, COX inhibitors, immunosuppressants and immunomodulators
  • Strategies to block interaction between the virus and ACE2 on host cells, or inhibition of spike protein activation are being explored
  • Novel inhibitors of the main CoV protease are being developed
  • Mucolytic drugs and drugs to counter pulmonary edema are in clinical trials

All of these tactics are intended to mitigate against COVID-19 and provide a window during which vaccine development can progress (with the caveat that the search for vaccines to prevent infection by existing circulating coronaviruses has been notoriously unsuccessful). The tables provide information gathered from various sources, and aim to cover as many of the pharmacological strategies being considered as we could find. Our ligands (therapeutics) table excludes traditional natural product-based medicines, blood-derived products (e.g. serum from recovered patients and stem cells), investigational vaccines, antibacterials for secondary infections and supportive treatments (oxygen therapy).

NEW: Our manuscript "A Rational Roadmap for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Pharmacotherapeutic Research and Development: IUPHAR Review 29" is now published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, PubMed ID: 32358833

The information included here should not be construed as endorsement by the University of Edinburgh, IUPHAR, BPS or the individuals connected with the Guide to Pharmacology database and website. This is a rapidly moving situation, so we make no claim that these are exhaustive lists, but we have tried to provide as accurate information as is available. Our pages for the ligands (therapeutics) and molecular targets in these tables which are in the Guide to Pharmacology have been updated to include literature references and/or links to additional materials. We continue to curate COVID19-related data into our development database, therefore the links in the tables may use alternative public links until the next database release.

Read the statement from the IUPHAR Clinical Division in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cite this page

The information on this page is curated by the GtoPdb curation team at the University of Edinburgh. If the information is useful to you, please cite it using the following format:
Faccenda E, Armstrong JF, Davenport AP, Harding SD, Pawson AJ, Southan C & Davies JA. ([date retrieved]). Coronavirus Information. IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology. Retrieved from

The development of this page is supported by the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR), the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) and by the Wellcome Trust's Institutional Strategic Support Fund, IS3-R201 19/20, which supports COVID-19 work from Drs Jane Armstrong, Elena Faccenda and Christopher Southan.

To cite the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology more generally please refer to our citation page.

Ligands relevant to SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) - ligand name links to detailed information in GtoPdb, or to our pre-release blog.
Ligand (Therapeutic) GtoPdb Ligand ID Comments
dexamethasone 2768 A widely used and low-cost anti-inflammatory corticosteroid drug. On June 16th 2020, it was reported that results from the UK RECOVERY trial have shown a clear survival benefit of low-dose dexamethasone in COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory complications. It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by 20% for those on oxygen. Dexamethasone does not appear to help patients with milder symptoms of coronavirus. Results have now been submitted to the medRxiv preprint server: Horby et al. (2020) Effect of Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: Preliminary Report ( In the UK, dexamethasone was authorised in mid-June 2020 for use within the NHS, as the first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce mortality
remdesivir 10715 Nucleotide analogue antiviral with broad-spectrum activity against RNA viruses. Used on compassionate grounds to treat the first SARS-CoV-2 +ve patient in the US. Phase 3 trial NCT04292899 to be carried out in patients with severe COVID-19 is in preparation. Derek Lowe provides a systematic and considered anaylsis of the potential for remdesivir in COVID-19 via his 'In the Pipeline' blog , Results from China in late April 2020 detected no significant clinical efficacy, but the investigators noted that remdesivir reduced time to clinical improvement (published in The Lancet DOI: This effect of accelerating recovery appears to have been replicated in a NIH-sponsored trial, but results have not been formally published.
Abl kinase inhibitors (e.g. imatinib) 5687 Abelson kinase (Abl) inhibitors are reported to block Spike protein-induced SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV fusion in vitro PMID: 29557770, potentially by blocking Abl2 at the endosomal membrane PMID: 27466418. It will be informative to determine if this holds true for SARS-CoV-2, and whether re-purposing of imatinib and/or newer Abl kinase inhibitors (dasatinib; bosutinib) could be a viable strategy against COVID-19. Likely to be most effective during the early stage of infection.
acalabruntinib 8912 Acalabrutinib is an approved BTK inhibitor that is used to treat B cell malignancies. It is being progressed to clinical trial in COVID-19 patients as part of the UK's ACCORD initiative Preliminary data from off-label use in the US suggests that acalabrutinib therapy normalises markers of inflammation (CRP, IL-6) in patients with severe COVID-19, and that targeting host hyperinflammation via BTK inhibition is a rational therapeutic strategy can improve patient outcomes in this disease (
ACE2 ligands - n/a ACE2 ligands that block the site of viral spike protein interaction could offer anti-SARS-CoV-2 infection potential. In hypertensive COVID-19 patients maintained on ACE2 inhibitor therapy whilst hospitalised, ACE2 inhibitors are reported to reduce all-cause mortality compared to patients with hypertension not on ACE inhibitors PMID: 32302265. But we need to be cognisant that the protective effects may not be evident in COVID-19 patients with normal blood pressure, and that a proper controlled clinical trial is needed before drawing firm conclusions.
AMY-101 - n/a AMY-101 is a clinical phase agent that targets IFX-1.It has been entered into clinical trials that aim to determine its ability to combat the dysregulated immune response that drives organ damage (lung and other organs) in patients with severe COVID-19- Phase 2 NCT04395456. A single COVID patient has previously been safely and successfully treated with AMY-101 PMID: 32360516.
anakinra 6972 An approved IL-1 pathway blocking peptide, that has anti-inflammatory action. This Comment in The Lancet Rheumatology discusses factors to be considered when planning anakinra trials for COVID-19 hyperinflammatory response
anti-TNF therapy (e.g. infliximab, adalimumab and others) / - 5004 / 4860 The case for re-purposing approved anti-TNF biologic therapies as a means to combat cytokine storm and inflammation in COVID-19 patients is presented in PMID: 32278362.
apilimod - 9859 Apilimod is a clinical stage inhibitor of the type III phosphoinostol kinase, PIKfyve. It has anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro PMID: 32707573. One note of caution for clinical trial of apilimod in COVID-19 patients (NCT04446377): PIKfyve has been implicated as a key component of antigen presentation by dendritic cells and the immune response to new antigens PMID: 30612035. If apilimod were to interfere with this crucial immune response in a setting of ongoing infection, the outcome could be less than ideal. Could it also leave patients more suceptible to other infections during treatment?
apremilast 7372 Apremilast is an approved phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor that reduces inflammatory cytokine production by T-cells. It is included in the collaborative I-SPY COVID adaptive clinical trial that was initiated in the US in July 2020. Apremilast will be tested for potential to reduce life-threatening immune hyperactivation that manifests in some serious COVID-19 patients.
ASC09F - n/a A combination drug containing ASC09 (a viral protease inhibitor) + ritonavir is an example of an existing HIV therapy being repurposed for COVID-19.
ATYR1923 - n/a ATYR1923 is a clinical stage neuropilin-2 (NRP2)-targeting immunomodulator being developed for acute lung injury associated with pulmonary sarcoidosis. It is now being applied to COVID-19 ARDS.
aviptadil 10891 A VIP analogue, VPAC1 receptor agonist that is already in clinical use. Preclinical and clinical experience shows that aviptadil restores function in pulmonary hypertension, ARDS, and acute lung injury (ALI), reduces IL-6 and TNFalpha production, and protects against pulmonary edema. This combination of benefits has led to aviptadil being investigated as a treatment option for ARDS in COVID-19 patients (NCT04311697).
AZD7986 (INS1007, brensocatib) - 9412 AZD7986 inhibits activation of neutrophil elastase via direct inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase 1, that is being investigated as a treament for neutrophilic lung inflammation. It has been shown to produce on-target effects in healthy trial volunteers (PMID: 29484635). Plans are underway to examine the potential of AZD7986 (now being progressed by Insmed as INS1007) to treat COVID-19-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in the UK STOP-COVID19 clinical trial. The INS1007 arm of the study aims to administer the drug to 150 COVID-19 patients (plus 150 in the placebo arm) across 10 UK hospitals.
baricitinib 7792 Approved anti-inflammatory JAK1/2 inhibitor used to treat RA. AI predicts antiviral activity via inhibition of AAK1 which is an important regulator of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, so has potential to inhibit viral entry into host cells in addition to its potent anti-inflammatory efficacy. The combination of baricitinib plus remdesivir vs. remdesivir alone is being evaluated in the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial 2 (ACTT-2) study NCT04401579, which began in May 2020. In mid September 2020 baricitinib's manufacturer Eli Lilly published a press release which claimed that the drug combination decreased median recovery time across all COVID-19 patients treated, by one day, compared to remdesivir monotherapy (link to the press release
bemcentinib - 10478 Bemcentinib is an investigational, selective and orally active AXL receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Part of its mechanism of action is to inhibit proinflammatory cytokine production. It is being progressed to clinical trial in COVID-19 patients as part of the UK's ACCORD initiative, to determine if its anti-inflammatory action is efficacious in combating COVID-19 associated hyper-inflammatory response.
β-D-N4-hydroxycytidine - 10735 Preliminary evidence from a BioRxiv preprint ( indicate that NHC/EIDD-2801 exhibits broad spectrum antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and related zoonotic group 2b or 2c Bat-CoVs. The potency of NHC/EIDD-2801 against multiple coronaviruses, its therapeutic efficacy, and oral bioavailability in vivo, all highlight its potential utility as an effective antiviral against SARS-CoV-2 and other future zoonotic coronaviruses.
bevacizumab 6771 Approved anti-VEGFA mAb. Phase 2/3 NCT04275414 aims to determine if suppression of vascular permeability will reduce pulmonary edema in patients with severe/critical COVID-19.
brequinar - 7406 A clinical stage DHODH inhibitor, that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro PMID:32754890; has entered Phase 1/2 clinical evaluation in COVID-19 patients (NCT04425252).
brincidofovir - n/a Small-molecule nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that was developed to treat cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, smallpox, and ebolavirus infections. Potential against SARS-CoV-2 infection could be evaluated.
bromhexine 11218 Bromhexine is a widely used mucolytic drug. It is a prodrug of ambroxol. Clinical trials in patients with COVID-19 are underway in a number of countries including Iran, Russia, Slovenia, China and Mexico.
camostat 6432 Serine protease inhibitor with activity against the host TMPRSS2 protease that is exploited by SARS-CoV-2 to mediate viral entry.
camrelizumab 9758 An anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor approved in China as an immuno-oncology biologic. Being compared to thymosin for the prevention of sepsis in COVID-19 patients.
canakinumab 6773 Canakinumab is an approved anti-IL-1beta mAb drug so clinical safety is established. It has been entered in to clinical trials that aim to determine its ability to combat the exaggerated immune response that drives cytokine storm and leads to tissue damage in the lung and other organs in patients with severe COVID-19.
cenicriviroc - 801 Cenicriviroc is an experimental nonalcoholic steatohepatitis drug that is an antagonist of the CCR2 and CCR5 chemokine receptors, which are linked to acute respiratory distress syndrome in COVID-19. It is included in the collaborative I-SPY COVID adaptive clinical trial that was initiated in the US in July 2020. Cenicriviroc will be tested for potential to reduce life-threatening immune hyperactivation that manifests in some serious COVID-19 patients.
ciclesonide 7469 Ciclesonide (an approved corticosteroid used to treat respiratory inflammation) can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication via inhibition of viral nsp15 (bioRxiv preprint article Matsuyama et al. (2020)
clazakizumab - 9195 Clazakizumab is a clinical stage anti-IL-6 mAb. It has been entered into clinical trials in patients with COVID-19, with a focus on assessing its efficacy in those with life-threatening hyperinflammation.
colchicine 2367 Colchicine is an approved drug, so safety in humans is established. It is used to treat gout and autoinflammatory diseases. Activated neutrophils can impede clot resolution through production of the endogenous antimicrobial peptide α-defensin-1, which acts to stabilise fibrin formation and reduce fibrinolysis. Colchicine-induced neutrophil depletion inhibits this release of α-defensin-1 and reduces thrombus formation in experimental systems (PMID: 30705047). Based on these observations clochicine has been entered into clinical trials ( that aim to evaluate its efficacy as a therapy to help treat, and/or prevent the development of, inflammation-driven severe clotting abnormalities that occur in COVID-19 patients.
compound 11r - 10706 This is a compound that inhibits the SARS-CoV main protease (Mpro), and has potential to inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, structural similarities between the 2 enzymes permitting. X-ray structure of 11r bound to SARS-CoV Mpro is deposited with the RSCB Protein Databank (ID 5N5O).
compound 13b - 10720 A more drug-like derivative of 11r (10706) that inhibits the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) PMID: 32198291. Exhibits potential for direct delivery to the lungs via inhalation route.
conestat alfa (Ruconest) - n/a Conestat alfa is an approved drug. It is a recombinat version of human C1 esterase inhibitor protein, that was designed to modulate the inflammatory response mediated via the complement system. Its developer, Pharming Group N.V., has reported preliminary results of successful treatment of 5 severe COVID-19 patients with conestat alfa (albeit with no placebo group). Pharming's press release (of 21 April 2020) indicates that a multinational RCT in a larger number of patients is being planned
CPI-006 - n/a Corvus Pharmaceuticals have a clinical stage, agonistic (immunostimulatory) CD73-targeting mAb (CPI-006; developed as an immuno-oncology agent) that is able to promote B cell activation, lymphocyte trafficking (and production of antigen-specific IgM and IgG antibodies), and to elevate numbers of memory B cells. CPI-006 is being repositioned as a novel immunotherapy approach that is predicted to provide both immediate (e.g. shortened recovery time) and long-term (e.g. improved protective immunity) clinical benefits for (hospitalised) COVID-19 patients; Phase 1 clinical trial NCT04464395.
darunavir + cobicistat / - 11243 / 7535 Antiretroviral, protease inhibitor. Cobicistat increases its bioavailability and half life. Phase 3 NCT04252274 for COVID-19.
eculizumab 6884 Eculizumab is an approved anti-C5 mAb drug so clinical safety is established. It has been entered into clinical trials that aim to determine its ability to combat the dysregulated immune response that drives organ damage (lung and other organs) in patients with severe COVID-19.
EIDD-2801 - 10737 A novel, orally bioavailable RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor, that targets replication of RNA viruses PMID: 32253226, developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Being advanced to clinical trial in the UK and US (Phase 1 in healthy volunteers), and 2x Phase 2 in recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients in the US.
emapalumab 9295 Emapalumab is an approved anti-IFNgamma mAb drug so clinical safety is established. It has been entered in to clinical trials that aim to determine its ability to combat the exaggerated immune response that drives cytokine storm and leads to tissue damage in the lung and other organs in patients with severe COVID-19.
emtricitabine + tenofovir / - 11244 / 10948 NRTI/NtRTI anti-HIV combination that could be repurposed for COVID-19.
enoxaparin 6811 An approved anti-clotting agent. Given evidence of heparin as a potential attachment factor for the coronavirus, a trial to determine the efficacy of early treatment with enoxaparin in COVID-19 patients has been initiated in Italy (March 2020).
favipiravir 11139 Small-molecule nucleoside analogue antiviral drug with broad spectrum activity against RNA viruses. A generic version was authorised for marketing by the Chinese National Medical Products Administration in Feb 2020, and can be used for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Two clinical studies are registered on
fingolimod 2407 An approved S1P1 receptor inhibitor that has immunomodulatory/immunosuppresant actions. This could be applied to the management of the inflammatory aspects of COVID-19. Clinical efficacy will be evaluated in Phase 2 study NCT04280588.
galidesivir - n/a Viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitor that was originally developed for HCV, EBV, Zika and Marburg virus infections, but also examined for activity against infection by other RNA viruses. Coverage expanded in 2020 to include infections by SARS-CoV-2.
gimsilumab - 9624 An anti-GM-CSF (CSF2) mAb currently in clinical trial for anti-inflammatory potential in the treatment of autoimmune inflammation and cancer. Has been repurposed for deranged inflammation in COVID-19 (Phase 2, NCT04351243).
GLS-5300 - n/a A Phase 1 MERS vaccine.
heparin 4214 Heparin is being used in ICU settings (based on observational efficacy) to mitigate against COVID-19-associated thromboembolic events (heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism). It is being progressed to clinical trial in COVID-19 patients as part of the UK's ACCORD initiative Experimental evidence suggests that heparin (and non-anticoagulant heparan sulfate) directly binds the coronavirus, so could potentially be administered as a decoy to neutralise the virus before it can infect healthy cells via ACE2 PMID: 32653452.
hydroxychloroquine 7198 An existing antimalarial drug, with in vitro activity against SARS-CoV (PMID: 16640347). Extreme caution must be taken when condisering using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as it has severe cardiac adverse effects, and in addition its distribution to lung tissue is unknown. There was much hype around repositioning HCQ to treat COVID-19. But this was based on preliminary evidence from a small cohort of COVID-19 patients in a VERY small study (PMID: 32205204). There was also a lot of controversy around some of the larger scale trials, how they were carried out, and how they were reported or published. Results from subsequent well run, well powered, large scale RCTs does not support any clinical benefit from HCQ in COVID-19 patients. Derek Lowe's 'In the PIPELINE' blog provides a systematic and considered anaylsis of the (lack of) potential for hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine for COVID-19.
I-432 - 10733 An in vitro tool compound; inhibitor of serine protease TMPRSS2.
IC14 - n/a IC14 is a chimeric mAb directed against human CD14. Because of its key role in amplifying the immune response, CD14 has been targeted for pharmacological modulation. In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Implicit initiated a clinical trial (NCT04346277) to investigate the potential of CD14 modulation as a mechanism to mitigate against cytokine storm and ARDS in patients with this potentially deadly disease.
icatibant 667 Icatibant is a long-established drug used to treat hereditary angioedema, by inhibiting the receptor for the inflammatory molecule bradykinin. It is included in the collaborative I-SPY COVID adaptive clinical trial that was initiated in the US in July 2020. Icatibant will be tested for potential to reduce life-threatening immune hyperactivation that manifests in some serious COVID-19 patients.
IFN-β (interferon beta) - 4967 Recombinant formulations of IFN-beta are used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), so safety has been established. IFN-beta is a key modulator of immune defence against viruses. The coronavirus seems to suppress production of types I and III IFNs (IFN-beta is a type I IFN) as part of its strategy to evade immune detection and destruction (Blanco-Melo et al., 2020 In press. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.026). Administering exogenous IFN-beta directly to the lungs is predicted to re-engage the anti-viral immune response to SARS-CoV-2. One such formulation is SNG001 (Synairgen Research) that can be delivered directly to the lungs via a nebuliser. SNG001 was initially designed to treat viral infection-related exacerbations in COPD patients (currently in Phase 2), but has been rapidly re-deployed for coronavirus infection.
lanadelumab 9094 Landelumab acts to inhibit the plasma kallikrein-bradykinin axis. It is being investigated as an option to reduce the elevated level of vasodilatory bradykinin which has been detected in COVID-19 patients, and that has been proposed to underlie many of the common symptoms of the infection (see New Scientist Health article of 8th Sep 2020
lenzilumab - 8935 Lenzilumab has been entered into clinical trial to determine if blocking GM-CSF signalling can help to alleviate the immune-mediated cytokine release syndrome in patients with severe or critical COVID-19 pneumonia. The aim would be reduce the time to recovery in hospitalised patients.
leronlimab - 10752 A clinical stage anti-CCR5 mAb with immunomodulatory potential. Being evaluated in Ph2 clinical trials in COVID-19 patients as a strategy to reduce cytokine storm and related pathophysiological sequelae.
MDL-28170 - 10745 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro PMID: 32707573
MEDI 3506 - n/a MEDI 3506 is an investigational anti-IL-33 mAb that is being developed for anti-inflammatory potential. It is being progressed to clinical trial in COVID-19 patients as part of the UK's ACCORD initiative
meplazumab - 11026 An anti-CD147 (basigin, BSG) mAb. SARS-CoV-2 may utilise CD147 as an additional entry receptor to infect host cells. Meplazumab can block the interaction between CD147 and SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (bioRxiv preprint article, Wang et al. (2020) Already under clinical evaluation in NCT04275245.
mucolytic drugs 10692 Ambroxol is an approved mucolytic which has the potential to combat pulmonary congestion in numerous lung conditions.
nafamostat 4262 A protease inhibitor approved in Japan. Now being evaluated in combination with favipiravir in a RCT in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia (clinical trial number jRCTs031200026). Nafamostat is being proposed to reduce SARS-CoV-2 entry by inhibiting the host protease TMPRSS2 [PMID:27550352], and to additionally counteract COVID-19-associated thrombosis via its established anticoagulant activity.
ONO-5334 - 10747 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro PMID: 32707573
OP-101 - n/a OP-101 (Orpheris/Ashvattha Therapeutics) is a novel, clinical stage anti-inflammatory agent. Chemically, it is a metabolically-stable inactive dendrimer covalently conjugated to N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). OP-101 was developed to specifically target activated immune cells in the brain to block neuroinflammatory demyelination in diseases such as X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy. It has the ability to target reactive macrophages, in which release of NAC into the cells reduces oxidative stress, blocks production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and attenuates inflammation. This action has led to OP-101 being accepted for Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with severe COVID-19 disease Scientific data supports the proposition that OP-101 could modulate the hyperinflammation, cytokine storm and subsequent tissue damage that underlies much of COVID-19's fatal effects.
opaganib - 6624 Opaganib is an orphan drug that is in Phase 2 evaluation. A medRxiv preprint descibes the compassionate use of opaganib in a small cohort of patients with severe COVID-19 (, predicated upon the drug's anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Results analysis indicated trends in favour of clinical efficacy which led to extended investigation in a Phase 2 randomised placebo-controlled trial in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
otamixaban - 10732 A direct serine protease factor Xa inhibitor, and failed anticoagulant candidate drug; predicted binding energy when virtually docked with TMPRSS2; associated with bleeding-related adverse effects in clinical study.
otilimab - 11132 Otilimab is a Ph3 anti-GM-CSF mAb with anti-inflammatory action. It is being investigated in a Ph2 RCT, in patients with severe COVID-19, as a mechanism to reduce severe inflammatory lung complications, improve lung function and potentially improve clinical outcomes NCT04376684 (ISRCTN18205700)
PF-07304814 - 11249 PF-07304814 is a SARS-CoV-2 3CL protease (Mpro) inhibitor from Pfizer. It is being advanced to Phase 1 evaluation (NCT04535167) to determine its clinical safely and preliminary antiviral efficacy.
PRD_002214 - 10716 PRD_002214 is a viral main protease inhibitor. It has been crystalised in complex with the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro (RCSB Protein Databank ID 6LU7).
ravulizumab 10168 Ravulizumab is an approved anti-C5 mAb drug so clinical safety is established. It has been entered into clinical trials that aim to determine its ability to combat the dysregulated immune response that drives organ damage (lung and other organs) in patients with severe COVID-19.
recombinant ACE2 protein (rhACE2) - n/a Apeiron Biologics are continuing with their rhACE2 agent APN01, and have begun recruiting for their Phase 2 study NCT04335136 to determine if rhACE2 has efficacy in COVID-19 patients. This study is using a composite primary endpoint of all cause-death or invasive mechanical ventilation up to 28 days or hospital discharge to determine efficacy.
recombinant coronavirus S (spike) protein - n/a Recombinant spike protein would be predicted to occupy the ACE2 binding site and out-compete S protein on live virus particles to reduce viral infection of host cells. Although note that phase 1 clinical trial NCT01376765 that was looking at SARS-CoV S protein was withdrawn.
recombinant human Type I interferons - n/a For example IFNalpha2a (Roferon A), IFNalpha2a (Pegasys) and others, which are already used as antiviral therapies could be applied to COVID-19. IFNs are being evaluated either alone or in various combinations with lopinavir/ritonavir and ribavirin.
REGN3051 and REGN3048 - n/a A mixture of monoclonal antibodies that target the spike protein of MERS-CoV. Contingent upon similarities within the antigenic sites these may have potential to bind SARS-CoV-2. Progressed as Phase 1 anti-coronavirus clinical lead; NCT03301090 has been completed.
relacatib - 7862 Developed as a cathepsin K inhibitor but has activity against cathepsin L that may provide potential to block SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells.
remdesivir + chloroquine / - 10715 / 5535 Effectively inhibits a clinical isolate of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro PMID: 32020029.
ribavirin + ritonavir / - 6842 / 8804 Anti-HIV combination that could be repurposed for COVID-19.
ritonavir + lopinavir / - 8804 / n/a This is a clinically used, orally administered anti-HIV combination drug therapy, so safety has been established.Two separate clinical trials have reported no clinical efficacy for this medication in severe COVID-19; No significant benefit, compared to standard therapy, was observed in patients with severe COVID-19 (results reported for Chinese trial ChiCTR2000029308 in NEJM 18/03/2020 PMID: 32187464 The UK RECOVERY trial also reported lack of efficacy for this combo in late June 2020 The RECOVERY team noted that it was impossible to study a large number of patients on invasive mechanical ventilation because the oral mode of delivery was incompatible with invasive ventilation.
ruxolitinib 5688 An approved anti-inflammatory JAK1/2/TYK2 inhibitor. Under clinical evaluation for COVID-19 (in combination with mesenchymal stem cell infusion)
sarilumab 7999 Approved immunosuppressive anti-IL-6 receptor mAb. It has been under evaluation in COVID-19 trials March 2020. Such trials included the French open-label CORIMUNO-SARI study NCT04324073. Results from an Italian clinical trial were published in July 2020, which concluded that whilst sarliumab accelerated recovery in a subset of patients showing minor lung consolidation at baseline, there was no overall mortality benefit detected in patients with severe COVID-19 compared to standard of care PMID: 32620597. A Phase 2/3 study in the US also failed to meet its primary or secondary endpoints, resulting in study termination (NCT04315298).
selinexor 10036 An approved drug that acts as a selective inhibitor of nuclear export (SINE). SINE compounds have been shown to disrupt the replication of multiple viruses in vitro and in vivo and to mediate anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects in animal models. In respect of SARS-CoV-2, SINE compounds have been reported to exhibit potential to interfere with interactions between viral proteins and key host proteins [PMID:32353859]. Based on this in vitro observation, low-dose selinexor has been advanced to Phase 2 investigation in patients with severe COVID-19 (NCT04349098).
siltuximab 7396 Siltuximab is an approved anti-IL-6 mAb drug so clinical safety is established. It is being repositioned for potential to combat cytokine storm resulting from an exaggerated response of the immune system in patients with severe COVID-19.
sirolimus 6031 An approved immunosuppressive drug. Sirolimus inhibits MERS-CoV infection of human liver cells in vitro; may be applicable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
thalidomide 7327 Thalidomide + low-dose glucocorticoid, and thalidomide + celecoxib are two approaches being evaluated for clinical efficacy in patients with severe COVID-19. These combine the immunosuppressive action of thalidomide with the anti-inflammatory actions of glucocorticoids and COX inhibition respectively. See NCT04273529 and NCT04273581 as examples.
tocilizumab 6881 Tocilizumab is an immunosuppressive anti-IL-6 receptor mAb. Given the lack of effective antiviral drugs with efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, treating the hyperinflammation in patients with severe COVID-19 was initiated in a number of countries. China's National Health Commission has authorised its use to treat patients with serious COVID-19-induced lung damage, and results have been posted on the preprint server of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.(ChinaRix), url, DOI: 10.12074/202003.00026. Phase 2 trial TOCIVID-19 (NCT04317092) is underway in Italy. At the end of July 2020 Roche announced that their Ph3 COVACTA RCT (NCT04320615) of tocilizumab in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia failed to meet its primary and secondary endpoints (improved clinical status or reduced patient mortality, respectively) They noted a positive trend in time to hospital discharge in the tocilizumab arm. Roche has 3 further ongoing tocilizumab studies in COVID-19, Ph3s REMDACTA (NCT04409262) and EMPACTA (NCT04372186), and Ph2 MARIPOSA (NCT04363736). Results published in The Lancet in August 2020, from an observational study, showed a reduction in mortality associated with low-dese tocilizumab in COVID patients with confirmed inflammatory markers This is in apparent contradiction to the COVACTA results. The limitations and differences between the studies, and reasoning that might explain the conflicting results are discussed by Campochiaro and Dagna (2020) There may still be hope for tocilizumab, if used in the right patients at the right time. Indeed, this seems to be coming to fruition, with Roche stating that in their EMPACTA study the addition of tocilizumab to standard of care significantly reduced (by 44%) the number of COVID-19 pneumonia patients who progressed to mechanical ventilation or who died (, not yet published).
TRV027 - 6902 TRV027 was a clinical candidate for heart failure that was studied through to Phase 2b, so has been tested in humans. A clinical trial (NCT04419610; Imperial College London) has been designed to establish if antagonising the renin-angiotensin system with TRV027 has efficacy to combat acute lung injury and ARDS in COVID-19 patients. If successful this would offer an additional option to anti-virals and anti-inflammatory therapies to address the umet clinical need for treating this multi-system, multi-organ disease.
umifenovir (Arbidol) - n/a A broad-spectrum antiviral drug used to treat influenza infection in Russia and China; not FDA approved.
VBY-825 - 10746 Anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in vitro PMID: 32707573
VHH72-Fc - n/a VHH72-Fc is a preclinical Llama-derived anti-SARS-CoV-2 single-domain antibody (VHH) that is being developed by ExeVir Bio. It targets the virus' spike protein, and cross-reacts with SARS-CoV-1 spike. VHHs are suitable for nebulisation and inhaler administration, which positions them well for the treatment of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.
vidofludimus - 9860 Vidofludimus is a clinical stage immunosuppressive drug that acts through inhibition of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHOD). It is being evaluated in clinical trial as an oral agent to reduced the hyperinflammatory response in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Also being tested in combination with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in UK hospitals.
vorapaxar 4047 An approved anti-thrombotic drug. Rationale for potential to combat COVID-19-associated thrombosis and endotheliitis is provided in PMID: 32639031
zilucopan - 10404 Zilucoplan is an investigational complement pathway inhibitor with anti-inflammatory potential. It acts as a functional inhibitor of membrane attack complex (MAC) formation. It is being progressed to clinical trial in COVID-19 patients as part of the UK's ACCORD initiative, to determine if it has efficacy in reducing the hyper-inflammatory response that is a component of severe COVID-19.
Targets relevant to SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19) - target name links to detailed information in GtoPdb.
Target Target ID Comments
ACE2 1614 Anchoring or binding site on host cells that is exploited by some betacoronaviruses for viral entry. Engaged by SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as the first step towards infection of host cells.
CD147 (basign, HGNC:1116) 3127 SARS-CoV-2 may utilise CD147 as an additional entry receptor to infect host cells. The anti-CD147 mAb, meplazumab, can block the interaction between CD147 and SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (bioRxiv preprint article, Wang et al. (2020) Already under clinical evaluation in NCT04275245.
furin 2366 SARS-CoV-2 exploits host furin to activate its spike protein as part of its infection process. Furin inhibitors can block SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication in vitro; Cheng et al. (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108254, bioRxiv preprint PMID: 32869021
SARS-CoV-2 main protease 3111 Inhibitors of this viral protease have the potential to block cleavage of nascent viral proteins as they are synthesised in host cells.
TMPRSS2 2421 Involved in the activation of viral glycoproteins/viral entry across a range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 entry is partially blocked in vitro by the protease inhibitor camostat.

Useful Publications

Genes encoding ACE2, TMPRSS2 and related proteins mediating SARS-CoV-2 viral entry are upregulated with age in human cardiomyocytes. Robinson EL et al. (2020) J Mol Cell Cardio. 147:88-91. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2020.08.009. PubMed ID: 32818486
This letter explores the expression of genes encoding proteins in the pathways that are involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection in human cardiomyocytes. The authors evaluate the potential of differential expression to contribute towards the vulnerability of older patients to cardiovascular complications such as myocarditis. They discuss the potential of identified proteins (for which clinical drugs already exist), as viable therapeutic targets both during acute infection and during recovery, including offering an opportunity to develop strategies that might improve management of long-term post-infection cardiac symptoms.

How does SARS-CoV-2 cause COVID-19?. Matheson NJ and Lehner PJ. (2020) Science. 369(6503):510-511. PubMed ID: 32732413
A very good summary of the current state of knowledge around SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19; what we know and what we don't know (yet).

Establishment and Validation of a Pseudovirus Neutralization Assay for SARS-CoV-2. Nie J et al. (2020) Emerg Microbes Infect. 9(1):680-686. PubMed ID: 32207377

In Vitro and Animal Models for SARS-CoV-2 Research. Kazuo Takayama. (2020) Trends Pharmacol Sci. PubMed ID: 32553545

Animal Models for Emerging Coronavirus: Progress and New Insights. Yuan L et al. (2020) Emerg Microbes Infect. 9(1):949-961. PubMed ID: 32378471

Current Global Vaccine and Drug Efforts Against COVID-19: Pros and Cons of Bypassing Animal Trials. Deb B et al. (2020) J Biosci. 45(1):82. PubMed ID: 32554907

A SARS-CoV-2-Human Protein-Protein Interaction Map Reveals Drug Targets and Potential Drug-Repurposing
This is an outstanding and comprehensive report that identifies interactions between SARS-CoV-2 proteins and human host proteins (the SARS-CoV-2 interactome), and explores the potential for existing FDA drugs to modulate these interactions (either by direct human protein interaction, or with interactions within associated pathways and complexes). Gordon DE, Jang GM, Bouhaddou M, et al. A SARS-CoV-2 protein interaction map reveals targets for drug repurposing [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 30]. Nature. 2020;10.1038/s41586-020-2286-9. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2286-9. PubMed ID: 32353859

Targets of T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in humans with COVID-19 disease and unexposed individuals. Grifoni et al. 2020. Cell. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.015. Published May 14, 2020

COVID-19 and the cardiovascular system: Zheng et al 2020 Nat Rev Cardiol. PubMed ID: 32139904

Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Alhazzani et al 2020 Intensive Care Med. PubMed ID: 32222812

SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry Depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and Is Blocked by a Clinically Proven Protease Inhibitor. Hoffmann et al. (2020) Cell [Online ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 32142651

Structure, Function, and Antigenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein. Walls AC et al. (2020) Cell [Online ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 32155444

Structure of Mpro from COVID-19 virus and discovery of its inhibitors. Jin Z et al. (2020) Nature.

Other Useful Resources

Additional Reading / Blogs

We published a brief update on coronaviruses in February on our blog.

Dr. Chris Southan's blog: Opening up COVID-19 medicinal chemistry (updated 13th August 2020)

Dr. Chris Southan's blog: We predicteth too much, methinks (updated 12th August 2020)

In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe: Good News on the Human Immune Response to the Coronavirus (15th May 2020). Explains the significance of this Cell CD4+ T cell paper

Drug & Vaccine tracker by BioRENDER (updated every Monday)


The IUPHAR Coronavirus News page contains IUPHAR's official response to COVID-19, as well links to many important pharmacology resources.

Read the statement from the IUPHAR Clinical Division in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

British Pharmacological Society

The British Pharmacological Society COVID-19 Hub provides very useful links and resources for the community. This includes a specific page on trusted resources and information, which includes info on research hubs, journals and publications.

World Health Organisation

WHO: Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

British Society for Immunology

The British Society for Immunology provides an excellent "Connect on Coronavirus" information hub with updates and resources for the immunology community during the Coronavirus outbreak

Connect on Coronavirus: resources provides a useful set of key resources

British Medical Journal

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Latest news and resources from the BMJ:

BMJ Best Practice - COVID-19:

Comments on ACE inhibitors and COVID-19; BMJ Rapid Responses to John Watkins’ editorial ‘Preventing a covid-19 pandemic’

Latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) research information from NIH:

Biocentury article: New vaccines and other therapeutics against COVID-19 that are in development- lists compiled by Biocentury and updated daily.

Live meta-analysis and scrutiny of evidence for all clinical studies that are investigating potential therapeutics for COVID-19

Link to current full list of studies at

Links to resources commenting on repurposing efforts

Coronavirus puts drug repurposing on the fast track (Harrison C, Nature 27 Feb 2020)

Landscape analysis of therapeutics as 17 February 2020 (by the WHO)

Protein Data Bank in Europe - structures for 'severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2'

PDBe structures (Organism = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)


UniProt release 2020-01 news

SARS-CoV-2 protein sequences from the current public health emergency have been annotated in UniProtKB and made available as a pre-release dataset on the UniProt FTP site. These entries will be available in the usual file formats as part of release 2020_02 (22 April 2020)

UniProt COVID-19 portal - for pre-release SARS-CoV-2 and receptor proteins

European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)

EMBL-EBI COVID-19 Data Portal - enables the sharing and analysis of data related to the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The initiative aims to facilitate international collaboration to accelerate scientific discovery, monitor the pandemic and help develop treatments and a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

Diagnostics pipeline

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND; in collaboration with the WHO) are conducting an intense programme of work to evaluate new diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 when asked to do so by manufacturers. Their COVID-19 page provides the latest information and up to date recommendations for laboratory testing.