The structure-based design of peptidomimetic inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 3C Like protease as potent anti-viral drug candidate



Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), as the pathogen of coronavirus  disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected millions of people and took  hundreds of thousands of lives. Unfortunately, there is deficiency of  effective medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19. 3C like protease (3CLPro)  of SARS-CoV-2 is essential to the viral replication and transcription,  and is an attractive target to develop anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents. Targeting  on the 3CLPro, we screened our protease inhibitor library and obtained compound 10a as hit to weakly inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 3CLPro, and determined the co-crystal structure of 10a and the protease. Based on the deep understanding on the protein-ligand complexes between the hit and SARS-CoV-2 3CLPro, we designed a series of peptidomimetic inhibitors, with outstanding inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 3CLPro  and excellent anti-viral potency against SARS-CoV-2. The protein-ligand  complexes of the other key inhibitors with SARS-CoV-2 3CLPro  were explicitly described by the X-ray co-crystal study. All such  results suggest these peptidomimetic inhibitors could be further applied  as encouraging drug candidates.