Researchers find weakness in coronavirus that can be targeted

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KEY POINTS

  • Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered a possible weakness of the COVID-19 coronavirus
  • Antibody Obtained from a Patient with SARS May Be Possible Weakness for COVID-19
  • Coronavirus has killed more than 64,000 people worldwide

Researchers may have found a specific area of ​​the coronavirus that can be targeted by therapies and drugs. The discovery is also likely to aid in the development of a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine, Scripps Research reported on Friday.

A study published by the Scripps Research Institute in Science shows the interaction of the human body with the new coronavirus at “resolution on an almost atomic scale”. The study notes that the antibody was developed against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), but that it cross-reacts with SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 is closely linked to the new coronavirus that causes highly infectious COVID-19. Biologist Ian Wilson, the lead author of the study, said his team could have spotted a “possible Achilles heel” in the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to the San Diego Tribune. Antibody from a patient with the SARS epidemic revealed a possible weakness in the new coronavirus.

“Our ultimate goal here is to get structural information about antibodies and their binding sites, and use them to guide the design of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, just like our laboratory did with the flu and HIV, “Nicholas Wu, the study’s first co-author and a postdoctoral research associate in the Wilson laboratory, said.

The new study from the Scripps Research Institute revolves around CR3022, which is an anti-SARS-CoV antibody. This antibody was first isolated in 2006 by Crucell Holland B.V., a pharmaceutical company in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Chinese scientists have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 and CR3022 are cross-reactive.

The crucial finding is that the antibody binding site is similar between CR3022 and SARS-CoV-2. According to the study, a high degree of similarity suggests that it plays an important role which would be lost if it were “significantly mutated”.

“We have found that this region is generally hidden inside the virus and is only exposed when this part of the virus changes its structure, as would happen in a natural infection”, Meng Yuan, associate researcher at the Wilson laboratory and co-first author of the study, said.

The institute is actively looking for COVID-19 survivors who are ready to donate blood, which can be used for antibody screening.

According to John Hopkins University, more than 64,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide. As of April 5 at 12:00 p.m., the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had exceeded 1.2 million. Medical staff in Varese, northern Italy, with Ivo the robot that helps them treat severely ill coronavirus patients and reduce the risk of infection Medical staff in Varese, northern Italy, with Ivo the robot that helps them treat severely ill coronavirus patients and reduce the risk of infection Photo: AFP / Miguel MEDINA



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