A possible target for COVID-19 antiviral treatment identified

Researchers from Cornell University in the USA, have identified a potential target for antiviral treatment of COVID-19. The researchers have found that there is a 93% similarity in the molecular sequence of proteins involved in the fusion of SARS-nCoV-2 and the SARS virus (from the 2002-03 epidemic), with the host cell membrane. The membrane fusion is a multi-step process. The virus receives feedback from the chemical environment, which includes cues like the receptor that the host cell presents. The viral spike protein then attaches to its surface. The fusion peptide interacts directly with the host cell surface membrane and facilitates merging to form a fusion pore. The genome is then transferred by the virus through this pore and the virus takes over the cell’s machinery to produce more viral copies. This study revealed that the charged atoms of calcium interacting with the fusion peptide can change the peptide’s structure. This can be a possible target for the antivirals to act on. In further studies, researches are hopeful to find how the virus moves in humans and what chemical cues facilitate the process. 

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