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In silico investigation of the therapeutic and prophylactic potential of medicinal substances bearing guanidine moieties against COVID-19

Zohreh Esam, Malihe Akhavan, Maryam Lotfi, Saeed Pourmand, and Ahmadreza Bekhradnia

Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Centre, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran



Received: 8 June 2022  Accepted: 30 September 2022


The current viral pandemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), creates health, mental, economic, and other serious challenges that are better to say global crisis. Despite the existence of successful vaccines, the possible mutations which can lead to the born of novel and possibly more dangerous variants of the virus as well as the absence of definitive treatment for this potentially fatal multiple-organ infection in critically ill patients make us keep searching. Theoretically targeting human and viral receptors and enzymes via molecular docking and dynamics simulations can be considered a wise, rational, and efficient way to develop therapeutic agents against COVID-19. In this way, The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), main protease, and spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 as well as the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor and transmembrane serine protease 2 are the most discussed and studied targets that play essential roles in the viral life and infection cycle. In the current in silico investigation, the guanidine functionality containing drugs and medicinal substances such as metformin, famotidine, neuraminidase inhibitors, antimalarial medications, anticancer drug imatinib, CGP compounds, and human serine protease inhibitor camostat were studied against the above-mentioned therapeutic targets and most of them (especially imatinib) have revealed an incredible spectrum of free docking scores and MD results. The current in silico investigation that its novel perspective of view is corroborated by the different experimental and clinical evaluations, confirms that the guanidine moiety can be considered as a missing promising pharmacophore in drug design and development approaches against SARS-CoV-2. Considering the chemical potency of this polyamine group in chemical interaction creation, the observed outcomes in this virtual screening were not surprising. On the other hand, the guanidine functional group has unique physico-chemical properties such as basicity that can make the target cells intracellular pH undesirable for the virus entry, uncoating, and cytosolic lifecycle. According to the obtained results in the current study that are interestingly confirmed by the previously reported efficacy of some the guanidine carrying drugs in COVID-19, guanidine as a potential multi-target anti-SARS-CoV-2 functional scaffold deserves further comprehensive investigations.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Guanidine; SARS-CoV-2; Imatinib; TMPRSS2; Camostat; Intracellular pH

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02528-y


Chemical Papers 77 (2) 1129–1148 (2023)

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