Scientists find new drug targets to treat coronavirus, fight future pandemics

Scientists find new drug targets to treat coronavirus, fight future pandemics

Washington: Scientists have identified a new target for a drug that could treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and also help combat future coronavirus pandemics. .
Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US said that scientists should be prepared for a possible next coronavirus pandemic.
“God forbid, we need it, but we’ll be prepared,” said Carla Satchel, a professor of microbiology-immunology at the Feinberg School of Medicine.
The team had previously mapped the structure of a virus protein called nsp16, which is present in all coronaviruses.
The latest study, published in the journal Science Signaling, provides important information that could aid in drug development against future coronaviruses as well as SARS-CoV-2.
“There is a great need for new approaches to drug discovery to combat infections from the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic and future coronaviruses,” Satchel said.
The idea behind the drug of the future will be that it acts early in the infection.
“If someone around you gets coronavirus, you’ll run to the drugstore to get medicine and take it for three or four days. If you were sick, you wouldn’t be as sick,” Satchel explained.
Researchers mapped three new protein structures to three-dimensional sequences and discovered a cryptic identifier in the machinery that helps the virus hide from the immune system.
They found a coronavirus-specific pocket in the protein, nsp16, that binds to a virus-genomic fragment held in place by a metal ion.
This fragment is used by the coronavirus as a template for all viral building blocks.
The researchers said that fitting into this unique pocket has the potential to create a drug that would block the function of this protein from the coronavirus.
It would not block the function of a similar protein from human cells that lack the pocket, he said, adding such a drug would only target the invading protein.
Nsp16 is thought to be one of the key viral proteins that can be inhibited by drugs to stop the virus soon after a person is exposed.
The goal, the researchers said, is to stop the virus before people get very sick.
The team worked to generate important information about this protein and is collaborating with chemists who will use the information to design drugs against the protein.
The researchers noted that while some coronavirus proteins differ greatly, most of them have almost identical nsp16.
The unique pocket discovered by the team is present in all the different coronavirus members.
This means that drugs designed to fit into this pocket should work against all coronaviruses, including a virus that emerges in the future, according to the researchers.
He said that it should also work against the common cold caused by the corona virus.
The researchers believe that any drug developed by the team based on the discovery of the coronavirus pocket will be part of a treatment cocktail taken by patients in the early stages of the disease.
That could include drugs like remdesivir, which prevent the virus from making templates for the building blocks that are needed for it to replicate itself, he said.

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