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Rethinking Remdesivir: Synthesis of Lipid Prodrugs that Substantially Enhance Anti-Coronavirus Activity

August 28, 2020

View ORCID ProfileRobert T. Schooley, View ORCID ProfileAaron F. Carlin, View ORCID ProfileJames R. Beadle, Nadejda Valiaeva, Xing-Quan Zhang, Aaron F. Garretson, Victoria I. Smith, Joyce A. Murphy, View ORCID ProfileKarl Y. Hostetler


This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review [what does this mean?].



The FDA has granted Remdesivir (RDV, GS-5734) an emergency use authorization on the basis of an acceleration of clinical recovery in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the drug must be administered intravenously, restricting its use to those with relatively advanced disease. RDV is also unstable in plasma and has a complex activation pathway which may contribute to its highly variable antiviral efficacy in SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. A potent orally bioavailable antiviral for early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection is needed. We focused on making simple orally bioavailable lipid analogs of Remdesivir nucleoside (RVn, GS-441524) that are processed to RVn-monophosphate, the precursor of the active RVn-triphosphate, by a single step intracellular cleavage. In addition to likely improved oral bioavailability and simpler metabolic activation, two of the three new lipid prodrugs of RVn had anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity 9 to 24 times greater than that of RDV in Vero E6 cells.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

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