Vivo-morpholino-based antiviral for sars-cov-2: Implications for novel therapies in the treatment of acute covid-19 disease

James E.K. Hildreth, Jon D. Moulton, Donald J. Alcendor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Therapeutic modalities designed specifically to inhibit COVID-19 infection and replication would limit progressive COVID-19-associated pulmonary disease in infected patients and prevent or limit systemic disease. If effective, antivirals could reduce viral transmission rates by reducing viral burden and allow time for immune clearance. For individuals infected with acute-stage disease, antivirals in support of the existing vaccines could reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Here, we evaluate MRCV-19, a phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligo with delivery dendrimer (Vivo-Morpholino), to prevent coronavirus infection in a cell culture model. This is a novel antiviral that effectively inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro. By design, MRCV-19 targets the SARS-CoV-2 5’UTR and overlaps the pp1a start site of translation in order to block access of the translation initiation complex to the start. MRCV-19 testing is conducted in a high-throughput, 384-well plate format with a 10-point dose-response curve (common ratio of 2) assayed in duplicate with parallel cytotoxicity evaluations. MRCV-19 was shown to be more effective than hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir in our CPE reduction assay with low toxicity. The clinical translational impact of this study is providing the basis for evaluating MRCV-19 on a large scale in an appropriate infection model for toxicity and systemic high-level inhibition of SARS-CoV-2, which could lead in time to phase I testing in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1018
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Dendrimers
  • Morpholinos
  • MRCV-19
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Vivo-morpholino-based antiviral for sars-cov-2: Implications for novel therapies in the treatment of acute covid-19 disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this