The pandemic COronaVIrus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease, which is caused by a novel and highly pathogenic virus strain SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory virus syndrome coronavirus 2). The infection may cause severe lower respiratory tract infection with acute respiratory distress and extrapulmonary organ disfunctions in infected individuals. Treatment strategy that both limits SARS-CoV-2 replication and reduce inflammation associated with COVID-19 would provide the greatest therapeutic benefit. Polyamines are naturally occurring organic cations that are essential for growth and development of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Many viruses require host polyamines for replication in the infected cells and targeting polyamine metabolism during viral infection showed promising results in in vitro and in vivo animal studies. The goal of this proposal is to test the applicability of two currently FDA approved drugs, eflornithine (other name ?-difluoromethylornithine or DFMO) and sulindac, and their combination for prevention or treatment of COVID-19 disease. Eftornithine is an irreversible inhibitor of a key polyamine biosynthetic enzyme ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Sulindac is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), which also induces polyamine catabolism. Eflornithine and sulindac work in a complementary manner to reduce intracellular polyamine levels. The safety doses of eflornithine/sulindac combination have been established for prevention of recurrence of high-risk adenomas ( Identifier NCT00118365). In this proposal we will test the hypothesis that eflornithine and sulindac combination will reduce both the intracellular polyamine availability for coronavirus replication, and inflammation associated with COVID-19. We will test this hypothesis using cell culture models (Specific Aim 1) and mouse models of COVID-19 disease (Specific Aim 2). Planning activities in preparation for clinical trials for eflornithine/sulindac combination for antiviral indication in collaboration with Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals (CPP) ( are also included. The translational goal of this project is to develop the effective approach for prevention COVID-19 infection as well as decreasing severity of the viral infection in the COVID-19 patients. It is essential to develop new approaches to prevention and treatment of virus outbreaks.

Public Health Relevance

The pandemic Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory infectious disease, which is caused by a novel and highly pathogenic virus strain SARS-CoV-2 and presents a challenge to identify effective drugs for disease prevention and treatment. Intracellular polyamines play an essential role in viral propagation and in the host antiviral response. We propose to test a polyamine depletion strategy for restricting of SARS-CoV-2 infection and inflammation associated with COVID-19, which utilizes eflornithine/sulindac drug combination and, therefore, will provide the greatest therapeutic benefit.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZTR1)
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Mount, Bobbie Ann
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University of Arizona
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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