Background:Persistent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic liver diseases and is a global health problem. Although new triple therapy (pegylated-interferon, ribavirin, and telaprevir/boceprevir) has recently been started and is expected to achieve a sustained virologic response of more than 70% in HCV genotype 1 patients, there are several problems to be resolved, including skin rash/ageusia and advanced anemia. Thus a new type of anti-HCV drug is still needed.Methodology/Principal Findings:Recently developed HCV drug assay systems using HCV-RNA-replicating cells (e.g., HuH-7-derived OR6 and Li23-derived ORL8) were used to evaluate the anti-HCV activity of drug candidates. During the course of the evaluation of anti-HCV candidates, we unexpectedly found that two preclinical antimalarial drugs (N-89 and its derivative N-251) showed potent anti-HCV activities at tens of nanomolar concentrations irrespective of the cell lines and HCV strains of genotype 1b. We confirmed that replication of authentic HCV-RNA was inhibited by these drugs. Interestingly, however, this anti-HCV activity did not work for JFH-1 strain of genotype 2a. We demonstrated that HCV-RNA-replicating cells were cured by treatment with only N-89. A comparative time course assay using N-89 and interferon-α demonstrated that N-89-treated ORL8 cells had more rapid anti-HCV kinetics than did interferon-α-treated cells. This anti-HCV activity was largely canceled by vitamin E. In combination with interferon-α and/or ribavirin, N-89 or N-251 exhibited a synergistic inhibitory effect.Conclusions/Significance:We found that the preclinical antimalarial drugs N-89 and N-251 exhibited very fast and potent anti-HCV activities using cell-based HCV-RNA-replication assay systems. N-89 and N-251 may be useful as a new type of anti-HCV reagents when used singly or in combination with interferon and/or ribavirin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)