Scientists identify molecules capable of blocking Sars-CoV-2

Hyperaxion Jun 12, 2020

They are similar to those present in known drugs, which can help in the search for a treatment for Covid-19.

Researchers at the University of Georgia in the United States have shown that a set of small molecules can block the activity of a key Sars-CoV-2 protein. According to the scientists, they are similar to those present in drugs already known, which may help in the search for a treatment for Covid-19.

Scientists identify molecules capable of blocking Sars-CoV-2
(Credit: ACS Infectious Diseases).

In an article, published in May in the ACS Infectious Diseases, the researchers revealed that they were the first to evaluate the PLpro protein of Sars-CoV-2. According to them, this study is particularly important because, in other coronaviruses, this protein is responsible for viral replication and for suppressing the host’s immune function.

“The PLpro from SARS-CoV-2 behaved differently than its predecessor that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003. Specifically, our data suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 PLpro is less effective at its immune suppression roles,” said Scott Pegan, one of the researchers, in a statement to the press. “This may be one of the underlying reasons why the current virus is not as fatal as the virus from the 2003 outbreak.”

The PLpro protein from Sars-CoV-2.
The PLpro protein from Sars-CoV-2. (Credit: ACS Infectious Diseases).

With that in mind, scientists began to study a series of compounds that were discovered 12 years ago and have proven effective against SARS. In laboratory tests, the molecules, made from naphthalene, were able to inhibit PLpro from Sars-CoV-2.

“The kind of small molecules that we’re developing are some of the first that are specifically designed for this coronavirus protease,” explained Pegan. “Our hope is that we can turn this into a starting point for creating a drug that we can get in front of the Food and Drug Administration.”

Related topics:

Coronavirus Covid-19

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