Antisense oligonucleotides targeting ORF1b block replication of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Sophie Dhorne-Pollet, Christopher Fitzpatrick, Bruno Da Costa, Clara Bourgon, Jean François Eléouët, Nicolas Meunier, Verónica A. Burzio, Bernard Delmas, Eric Barrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a need for new and efficient therapeutic strategies. We explored antisense therapy using oligonucleotides targeting the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) genome. We predicted in silico four antisense oligonucleotides (ASO gapmers with 100% PTO linkages and LNA modifications at their 5′ and 3′ends) targeting viral regions ORF1a, ORF1b, N and the 5′UTR of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Efficiency of ASOs was tested by transfection in human ACE2-expressing HEK-293T cells and monkey VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. The ORF1b-targeting ASO was the most efficient, with a 71% reduction in the number of viral genome copies. N- and 5′UTR-targeting ASOs also significantly reduced viral replication by 55 and 63%, respectively, compared to non-related control ASO (ASO-C). Viral titration revealed a significant decrease in SARS-CoV-2 multiplication both in culture media and in cells. These results show that anti-ORF1b ASO can specifically reduce SARS-CoV-2 genome replication in vitro in two different cell infection models. The present study presents proof-of concept of antisense oligonucleotide technology as a promising therapeutic strategy for COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number915202
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2022


  • ASO
  • coronavirus
  • oligonucleotide antisense therapy
  • RNA therapy
  • RNA virus
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • SARS-CoV-2 antisense therapy RNA virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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