The recent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by SARS-CoV-2 has led to uptodate 24.3 M cases and 0.8 M deaths. It is thus in urgent need to rationalize potential therapeutic targets against the progression of diseases. An effective, feasible way is to use the pre-existing ΔORF6 mutant of SARS-CoV as a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, since both lack the moiety responsible for interferon antagonistic effects. By analyzing temporal profiles of upregulated genes in ΔORF6-infected Calu-3 cells, we prioritized 55 genes and 238 ligands to reposition currently available medications for COVID-19 therapy. Eight of them are already in clinical trials, including dexamethasone, ritonavir, baricitinib, tofacitinib, naproxen, budesonide, ciclesonide and formoterol. We also pinpointed 16 drug groups from the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system, with the potential to mitigate symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and thus to be repositioned for COVID-19 therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-575
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Drug repositioning
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Transcriptomic and network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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