Identification of novel anti-hepatitis C virus agents by a quantitative high throughput screen in a cell-based infection assay

Zongyi Hu, Xin Hu, Shanshan He, Hyung Joon Yim, Jingbo Xiao, Manju Swaroop, Cordelle Tanega, Ya Qin Zhang, Guanghui Yi, C. Cheng Kao, Juan Marugan, Marc Ferrer, Wei Zheng, Noel Southall, T. Jake Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) poses a major health threat to the world. The recent development of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) against HCV has markedly improved the response rate of HCV and reduced the side effects in comparison to the interferon-based therapy. Despite this therapeutic advance, there is still a need to develop new inhibitors that target different stages of the HCV life cycle because of various limitations of the current regimens. In this study, we performed a quantitative high throughput screening of the Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository (MLSMR) of ∼350,000 chemicals for novel HCV inhibitors using our previously developed cell-based HCV infection assay. Following confirmation and structural clustering analysis, we narrowed down to 158 compounds from the initial ∼3000 molecules that showed inhibitory activity for further structural and functional analyses. We were able to assign the majority of these compounds to specific stage(s) in the HCV life cycle. Three of them are direct inhibitors of NS3/4A protease. Most of the compounds appear to act on novel targets in HCV life cycle. Four compounds with novel structure and excellent drug-like properties, three targeting HCV entry and one targeting HCV assembly/secretion, were advanced for further development as lead hits. These compounds represent diverse chemotypes that are potential lead compounds for further optimization and may offer promising candidates for the development of novel therapeutics against HCV infection. In addition, they represent novel molecular probes to explore the complex interactions between HCV and the cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalAntiviral Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Baihua Zhang for her excellent technical work, Paul Shinn for his preparation of compounds, Sam Michael and Mike Balcom for operating robot-controlled compound administration and plate reading. This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences , National Institutes of Health .


  • Antiviral
  • Cell-based assay
  • HCV inhibitors
  • High throughput screening
  • Viral life cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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