In Vitro and In Vivo Therapeutic Potential of 6,6′-Dihydroxythiobinupharidine (DTBN) from Nuphar lutea on Cells and K18-hACE2 Mice Infected with SARS-CoV-2

Shay Weiss, Kamran Waidha, Saravanakumar Rajendran, Daniel Benharroch, Jannat Khalilia, Haim Levy, Elad Bar-David, Avi Golan-Goldhirsh, Jacob Gopas, Amir Ben-Shmuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously published research on the anti-viral properties of an alkaloid mixture extracted from Nuphar lutea, the major components of the partially purified mixture found by NMR analysis. These are mostly dimeric sesquiterpene thioalkaloids called thiobinupharidines and thiobinuphlutidines against the negative strand RNA measles virus (MV). We have previously reported that this extract inhibits the MV as well as its ability to downregulate several MV proteins in persistently MV-infected cells, especially the P (phospho)-protein. Based on our observation that the Nuphar extract is effective in vitro against the MV, and the immediate need that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic created, we tested here the ability of 6,6′-dihydroxythiobinupharidine DTBN, an active small molecule, isolated from the Nuphar lutea extract, on COVID-19. As shown here, DTBN effectively inhibits SARS-CoV-2 production in Vero E6 cells at non-cytotoxic concentrations. The short-term daily administration of DTBN to infected mice delayed the occurrence of severe clinical outcomes, lowered virus levels in the lungs and improved survival with minimal changes in lung histology. The viral load on lungs was significantly reduced in the treated mice. DTBN is a pleiotropic small molecule with multiple targets. Its anti-inflammatory properties affect a variety of pathogens including SARS-CoV-2 as shown here. Its activity appears to target both pathogen specific (as suggested by docking analysis) as well as cellular proteins, such as NF-κB, PKCs, cathepsins and topoisomerase 2, that we have previously identified in our work. Thus, this combined double action of virus inhibition and anti-inflammatory activity may enhance the overall effectivity of DTBN. The promising results from this proof-of-concept in vitro and in vivo preclinical study should encourage future studies to optimize the use of DTBN and/or its molecular derivatives against this and other related viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8327
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • 6,6′-dihydroxythiobinupharidine (DTBN)
  • COVID-19
  • RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp)
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • anti-viral small molecule drug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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