Use of Rostafuroxin to Inhibit Viral Infection: Collaboration and Licensing Opportunity

NIAID scientists have discovered that Rostafuroxin, a synthetic digitoxigenin derivative, inhibits RSV infection in respiratory epithelial cells by inhibiting the RSV induced ATP1A1-mediated signaling pathway required for RSV entry. Rostafuroxin is a promising anti-viral drug candidate for RSV and possibly other viruses that use the same pathway for host cell entry.

Acute respiratory infections during early childhood constitute a major human health burden. Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common and important viral cause of severe acute pediatric respiratory infections worldwide. Mortality due to RSV in the post-neonatal (28 days to 1 year old) population is second only to malaria. It is estimated that RSV causes 34 million lower respiratory tract infections, 4 million hospitalizations, and 66,000-199,000 deaths every year in children less than 5 years of age. Most mortality occurs in the developing world where clinical care is less accessible. Mortality is low in the developed countries, but the morbidity is substantial: in the United States alone, RSV is associated with an estimated 132,000-172,000 hospitalizations annually in children less than 5 years old. There is not yet available a vaccine or an effective antiviral drug suitable for routine use.

This invention relates to a broadly antiviral small chemical molecule, Rostafuroxin, expected to be well tolerated in humans and available for clinical evaluation. In particular, this patent application relates to the novel and unexpected finding that Rostafuroxin substantially inhibits RSV infection. ATP1A1 is a host protein involved with cellular entry of RSV. RSV entry was found to require activation of a signaling cascade mediated by ATP1A1 which resembles the signaling pathway (also mediated by ATP1A1) triggered by cardiotonic steroids. Though not evaluated for RSV, ATPA1A was previously implicated as a pro-viral factor in the infection cycles of a number of viruses, but the nature of its involvement and mechanism of action were unknown.

Rostafuroxin, a synthetic digitoxigenin derivative, is a small-molecule that is known to specifically bind ATP1A1. It has not been previously known to have any antiviral activity.

The inventors have evidence that Rostafuroxin inhibits RSV infection in respiratory epithelial cells. Rostafuroxin inhibits RSV induced ATP1A1-mediated signaling pathway required for RSV entry. This was demonstrated in A549 cells, a widely used human respiratory epithelial cell line, and in primary human airway epithelial cells derived from a healthy human.

Rostafuroxin has been previously tested in clinical studies as an anti-hypertensive agent. It has no adverse effects in healthy humans and, importantly, does not lower the normal systolic blood pressure of healthy individuals. Rostafuroxin is a promising anti-viral drug candidate for RSV and possibly other viruses that use the same pathway for host cell entry.

This technology is available for licensing for commercial development in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 209 and 37 CFR Part 404, as well as for further development and evaluation under a research collaboration.

Potential Commercial Applications:

  • Viral therapeutics
  • Viral diagnostics
  • Vaccine research 

  • Competitive Advantages:

  • Ease of manufacture
  • Broad antiviral activity
  • Favorable safety profile in clinical trials
  • Inventors:  Shirin Munir (NIAID), Matthias Lingemann (NIAID), Peter Collins (NIAID).

    Intellectual Property: U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/737,899, filed September 27, 2018 (pending).

    Collaboration and Licensing Opportunity: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize for development of a vaccine for respiratory or other infections. For collaboration and licensing opportunities, please contact Peter Soukas,J.D., at or 301-594-8730.

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    NIAID Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Office

    NIAID’s technology transfer office, TTIPO, is a one-stop resource for organizations interested in partnering with NIAID to access, develop, and manage the translation of research discoveries into medically beneficial products. TTIPO seeks to expand NIAID’s innovation pipeline with existing and new partners in areas such as newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (e.g., dengue, Zika, Ebola, influenza, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and HIV/AIDS), biodefense (e.g., smallpox and anthrax), and immune-mediated diseases (e.g., asthma and allergy).

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