February 4, 2020
The Lancet

Baricitinib as potential treatment for 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease

Peter Richardson, Ivan Griffin, Catherine Tucker, Dan Smith, Olly Oechsle, Anne Phelan, Justin Stebbing

Given the scale and rapid spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) acute respiratory disease, there is an immediate need for medicines that can help before a vaccine can be produced. Results of rapid sequencing of 2019-nCoV, coupled with molecular modelling based on the genomes of related virus proteins have suggested a few compounds that are likely to be effective, including the anti-HIV lopinavir plus ritonavir combination. Together with customisations bespoke to 2019-nCoV, we used the BenevolentAI knowledge graph to search for approved drugs that could help, focusing on those that might block the viral infection process. We identified baricitinib, which is predicted to reduce the ability of the virus to infect lung cells.