EbeneMagazine – AU – Researchers May Have Solved Huge Coronavirus Mystery


Scientists discovered months ago how the novel coronavirus binds to cells Next, they discovered a mutation that allows SARS-CoV-2 to bind to ACE2 receptors even more efficiently than before This mutation does not make the virus deadlier than before, just more contagious.In addition, researchers have looked for ways to prevent the spike protein from binding to cells Blocking this process would prevent the virus from entering cells. cells and replicate, and eventually clear the virus from the body faster The neutralizing antibodies that coronavirus survivors develop, and which vaccines the immune system would learn to make, could block the spike protein and prevent it from connecting to ACE2 receptors At least that is the idea, as vaccines are still in development so it is not known whether they can block infections

Now new research may have uncovered a key detail about the process that allows the virus to connect to cells The discovery could help drugmakers create other therapies that could further target the spike protein and prevent it from binding to ACE2 receptors

Finnish and German scientists concluded that a receptor called neuropilin-1 is involved in the process by which the virus infects cells “The fact that SARS-CoV-2 uses the ACE2 receptor to infect our cells was known , but viruses often use multiple factors to maximize their infectious potential, « Dr Giuseppe Balistreri said in a statement » Unlike the major ACE2 receptor, which is present at low levels, neuropilin-1 is very abundant in cells of the nasal cavity This is a strategically important location that can contribute to the effective infectivity of this new coronavirus, which has caused a major pandemic, spreading rapidly around the world « 

Scientists compared SARS-CoV-2 to its precursor, SARS-CoV, which caused the SARS outbreak in 2003.This virus was not as efficient at spreading as the new coronavirus, so researchers sought to determine why

« When the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence became available, at the end of January, something surprised us, » said Balistreri « Compared to its older relative, the new coronavirus had acquired an ‘extra coin’ on its surface proteins, which is also found in the peaks of many devastating human viruses, including Ebola, HIV, and highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza, among others We thought this might lead us to the answer But how? « 

Balistreri has teamed up with other experts and looked into the importance of neuropilin receptors in the spread of the novel coronavirus

The illustration shows how the novel coronavirus spike protein binds to key cellular receptors, including ACE2 and neuropilin-1 Image source: DR BALISTRERI AND SECONDBAYSTUDIOSCOM

Researchers studied the receptor in cell cultures in a lab, using specific antibodies to block it.They found that neuropilin-1 is a key instrument used by the virus to reach ACE2 receptors

« If you think of ACE2 as a door lock to enter the cell, then neuropilin-1 could be a factor that directs the virus to the gate ACE2 is expressed at very low levels in most cells. it is not easy for the virus to find its doors to enter Other factors such as neuropilin-1 could help the virus find its door « , said Balistreri

The researchers also found that neuropilin-1 could explain why many patients lose their sense of smell and taste The receptor is found in the cell layer of the nasal cavity, and the researchers looked at tissue samples from deceased patients COVID-19 « We wanted to find out whether cells equipped with neuropilin-1 are really infected with SARS-CoV-2, and found out that it is, » said Munich Technical University professor Mika Simons

Simon, co-leader of the study, also explains that the neuropilin-1 receptor can move some viruses to the brain, at least in experiments with mice.However, this is not an indication that the new coronavirus can be transported from nose to brain “We could determine that neuropilin-1, at least under the conditions of our experiments, promotes transport to the brain, but we cannot conclude whether this is also true for SARS- CoV-2 This pathway is very likely to be suppressed by the immune system in most patients, ”said Simons

Researchers are currently investigating ways to block neuropilin-1 in COVID-19 therapy, but warn that more research is needed « It is currently too early to speculate whether direct blocking of neuropilin could be a therapeutic approach viable, as it could lead to side effects, « said Balistreri » This will need to be looked at in future studies Currently, our lab is testing the effect of new molecules that we have specifically designed to disrupt the connection between the virus and neuropilin. Preliminary results are very promising, and we hope to obtain in vivo validations in the near future « 

What’s interesting about the neuropilin-1 receptor is that it recently appeared in another type of COVID-19 research Scientists at the University of Health Sciences Arizona also discovered that SARS-CoV-2 binds to neuropilin-1, but they associated the phenomenon with an unexpected side effect. By blocking the receptor, the new coronavirus hinders the transmission of pain, effectively preventing a person from feeling pain after infection.This could explain why many people do not experience any pain-related symptoms

As with other studies on COVID-19, more research is needed to determine the role of neuropilin-1 in coronavirus infection If these results can be confirmed, scientists may be able to develop further new drugs that can prevent the virus from binding to neuropilin and ACE2 receptors

Coronavirus, mouthwash, severe acute respiratory syndrome

EbeneMagazine – UA – Researchers may have just solved huge coronavirus mystery

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