In a recent online release from the Journal of Infection, Chan, colleagues from Kwok-Yung Yuen's group and collaborators describe their search for compounds with broad-spectrum activity against both influenza viruses and coronaviruses (CoVs); the latter being especially rare.
Testing a pre-existing 1,280 compound panel of potential drugs yielded 10 hits with activity against MERS-CoV (EMC strain). Only mycophenolic acid (an inhibitor of T and B lymphocyte and antibody production) fit the bill for a likely compound from this panel. It is also active against other viruses and is used clinically to prevent solid organ transplant rejection.
Mycophenolic acid is available, can be given orally or parenterally, dosage is convenient, serum concentrations exceed those needed to be active against MERS-CoV and most tertiary care facilities can monitor drug levels. The risk of immunosuppression is of concern however.
Other agents showed some anti-MERS-CoV/EMC activity in the Vero cell culture assays. Ribavirin, interferon (IFN)-α, and IFN-β were active
Combining mycophenolic acid with (IFN)-β produced an additive effect.
Further studies sound likely.