Scientists at Ohio State University have developed protein fragments that will help people to avoid getting COVID-19 disease if they come in contact with the novel coronavirus.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 binds to a receptor protein on a target cell’s surface called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) through their receptor-binding domains (RBDs). The ACE2 is present in certain types of human cells in the lung and nasal cavity, which provides many access points to the novel coronavirus to infect the body.
However, now the scientists have designed and tested the protein fragments, called peptides, which resembles (ACE2) receptor. The peptides – a replica of the ACE2 receptor - will convince SARS-CoV-2 to bind to them, which will block the virus’s ability to actually get inside the cell, according to the study published in the January issue of the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry.
“Our goal is that any time SARS-CoV-2 comes into contact with the peptides, the virus will be inactivated. This is because the virus Spike protein is already bound to something that it needs to use in order to bind to the cell,” Amit Sharma, co-lead author of the study and assistant professor of veterinary biosciences at Ohio State, was quoted as saying in Ohio State News.
“To do this, we have to get to the virus while it’s still outside the cell,” Sharma added.
Following the development of these peptides, the Ohio State team is now looking forward to delivering it in a nasal spray or aerosol surface disinfectant, among other applications, to block circulating SARS-CoV-2 access points with an agent that prevents their entry into target cells, said the report.
Ross Larue, co-lead author and research assistant professor of pharmaceutics and pharmacology at Ohio State said, “With the results, we generated with these peptides, we are well-positioned to move into product-development steps.”
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