Now scientists at the University of Louisville have developed technology that they believe could stop the virus from infecting human cells.
The technology is based on a piece of synthetic DNA called aptamer, which targets and binds to a human protein called nucleolin.
While research is still in its infancy, tests indicate that this aptamer could prevent the coronavirus from “diverting” nucleolin to replicate inside the body.
The aptamer has already been applied in a number of ways, including as an experimental cancer drug.
Paula Bates, researcher on the project, said, “Like many scientists, as soon as I heard about the new coronavirus, I wanted to help and started to think about how my area of research might intersect. research efforts on coronaviruses.
“I am fortunate to be at UofL, which is one of the few places in the country where we have the facilities to experiment with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
In the first tests, the researchers showed that the aptamer was effective against the coronavirus in doses that previous research had shown to be safe for patients.
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The team now hopes to conduct follow-up tests to see if the aptamer could serve as a viable treatment in the coming months.
Meanwhile, other research teams are exploring several other treatment options for the coronavirus.
This includes remdesivir (a drug used to treat Ebola) and lopinavir – an anti-HIV drug.