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Scientists develop peptides to inhibit novel coronavirus infection

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

February 23, 2021 / 10:47 AM IST
Representative image

Representative image

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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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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.”

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic

The global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 24,00,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data as of 9.00 am on February 23. According to the data, the United States tops the list with more than five lakh deaths.

The number of confirmed infections worldwide has passed 11 crore, out of which 2.81 crore – highest - are in the United States.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Feb 23, 2021 10:47 am

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