Scientists say they found a ‘game changer’ in fight against COVID-19
A new study suggests there’s a pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that could be drugged to end the virus’ spread.
Sept. 24, 2020 (Deseret News) — A new study from the University of Bristol suggests there’s a druggable pocket in the SARS-Cov-2 spike protein that could help stop the coronavirus.
- The researchers published their findings in the journal Science.
- Scientists said the discovery is a “game changer” in defeating the coronavirus pandemic.
What the study said:
SARS-CoV-2 has multiple copies of glycoprotein — or the “spike protein” — that attaches to our cells and infects us.
- The research team used an imaging technique, electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) to look into the spike at the atomic level.
With the help of Oracle, the team built a 3D structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, allowing them to research the ins and outs if the protein.
- The researchers found “a small molecule, linoleic acid (LA), buried in a tailor-made pocket within the spike protein,” according to a release sent to the Deseret News.
- LA can’t be developed by humans. But it plays “a vital role in inflammation and immune modulation, which are both key elements of COVID-19 disease progression. LA is also needed to maintain cell membranes in the lungs so that we can breathe properly,” the release said.
- The researchers said those with COVID-19 had low levels of LA, which is why they had trouble breathing and why they suffered from inflammation.
Why it matters:
Now, the researchers said seeing the pocket allows them to see whether they can turn the virus against it self.
- “Our discovery of a druggable pocket within the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein could lead to new anti-viral drugs to shut down and eliminate the virus before it entered human cells, stopping it firmly in its tracks,” said professor Christiane Schaffitzel