These spikes attach to the negatively charged walls of a host cell that forms a bridge that enables the virus to enter the host cell and thus infects it.
As per research papers,* the technology to contain coronavirus lies in disabling this bridge - the S-Protein of the virus.
Northwestern University researchers have uncovered a new vulnerability in the novel coronavirus' infamous spike protein -- illuminating a relatively simple, potential treatment pathway.
The spike protein contains the virus' binding site, which adheres to host cells and enables the virus to enter and infect the body. Using nanometer-level simulations, the researchers discovered a positively charged site (known as the polybasic cleavage site) located 10 nanometers from the actual binding site on the spike protein. The positively charged site allows strong bonding between the virus protein and the negatively charged human-cell receptors.
Leveraging this discovery, the researchers designed a negatively charged molecule to bind to the positively charged cleavage site. Blocking this site inhibits the virus from bonding to the host cell.
"Our work indicates that blocking this cleavage site may act as a viable prophylactic treatment that decreases the virus' ability to infect humans," said Northwestern's Monica Olvera de la Cruz, who led the work.
Enhanced Binding of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein to Receptor by Distal Polybasic Cleavage Sites, Baofu Qiao, and Monica Olvera de la Cruz* - ACS Nano 2020, 14, 8, 10616–10623, Publication Date:August 2, 2020
Considerations around the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Particular Attention to COVID-19 Brain Infection and Neurological Symptoms 2020 Aug 5;11(15):2361-2369. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.0c00373. Epub 2020 Jul 21.
It also acts as a complementary solution - along with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), where necessary - to reduce burdens of indefinite social distancing.
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