Flaviviruses causes significant human disease. Recent outbreaks of the Zika virus highlight the need to develop effective therapies for this class of viruses. Previously we identified niclosamide as a broad-spectrum inhibitor for flaviviruses by targeting the interface between viral protease NS3 and its cofactor NS2B. Here, we screened a small library of niclosamide derivatives and identified a new analogue with improved pharmacokinetic properties. Compound JMX0207 showed improved efficacy in inhibition of the molecular interaction between NS3 and NS2B, better inhibition of viral protease function, and enhanced antiviral efficacy in cell-based antiviral assay. The derivative also significantly reduced Zika virus infection on 3D mini-brain organoids derived from pluripotent neural stem cells. Intriguingly, the compound significantly reduced viremia in a ZIKV animal model. In summary, a niclosamide derivative JMX0207 was identified which shows improved pharmacokinetics and efficacy against Zika virus both in vitro and in vivo.

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PubMed