We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. Cookie Policy.

Features Partner Sites Information LinkXpress
Sign In
Advertise with Us
Detecto

Download Mobile App





First-Ever Molecules that Target SARS-CoV-2 RNA and Prevent Replication Could Cure COVID-19

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 29 Nov 2021
Print article
Illustration
Illustration

Researchers are working on new ways to cure COVID-19 infections, such as using molecules that bind to folds in the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s RNA genome.

Researchers at Duke University (Durham, N.C., USA) believe that the complex shapes that RNA takes on as it folds upon itself could have untapped therapeutic potential in the fight against COVID-19. The team has identified chemical compounds that can latch onto these 3D structures and block the virus’s ability to replicate.

To infect human cells, the coronavirus must break in, deliver its genetic instructions in the form of RNA, and hijack the body’s molecular machinery to build new copies of itself. The infected cell becomes a virus factory, reading the 30,000 nucleotide “letters” of the virus’s genetic code and churning out the proteins the virus needs to replicate and spread. Most antivirals - including remdesivir, molnupiravir and Paxlovid, the only antiviral drugs for COVID-19 that have been FDA-approved or are in line for approval - work by binding to these proteins.

However, the Duke University researchers are taking a different approach. They have identified the first molecules that take aim at the viral genome itself - and not just the linear sequence of A’s, C’s, G’s and U’s, but the complex three-dimensional structures the RNA strand folds into. When they tested the molecules on monkey cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, they found that the compounds reduced the amount of virus within 24 hours of infection without causing collateral damage to their host cells. They also showed greater effects at higher doses.

Further work showed that the molecules stopped the virus from building up by binding to a site in the first 800 letters of the viral genome. Most of this stretch of RNA doesn’t code for proteins itself but drives their production. The region folds in on itself to form multiple bulges and hairpin-like structures. Using computer modeling and a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers were able to analyze these 3D RNA structures and pinpoint where the chemical compounds were binding. The researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how these compounds stop the virus from multiplying, once they’re bound to its genome.

The researchers have a patent pending on their method. They want to modify the compounds to make them more potent, and then test them in mice to see if this could be a viable drug candidate. The researchers determined that the loops and bulges of RNA they identified have remained essentially unchanged by evolution across related coronaviruses in bats, rats and humans, including the ones that caused the SARS and MERS outbreaks. That means their method might be able to fight more than just SARS-CoV-2. Clearly, more antivirals would be valuable weapons to have, so when the next pandemic hits we’ll be better prepared. Having more drugs on hand would have another benefit: fighting resistance. Viruses mutate over time. Being able to combine drugs with different mechanisms of action would make it less likely that the virus could develop resistance to all of them simultaneously and become impossible to treat.

“These are the first molecules with antiviral activity that target the virus’s RNA specifically, so it's a totally new mechanism in that sense,” said Amanda Hargrove, a chemistry professor at Duke University. “This is a new way to think about antivirals for RNA viruses.”

Related Links:
Duke University 

BMP Whole Blood Analyzer: GEM Premier ChemSTAT
Gold Supplier
Prenatal Screening Risk Calculation Software
Preaccu
New
Medical Grade Ultra Compact Camera
MKC-210HD
New
Mobile Radiographic Table
CT160

Print article

Channels

AI

view channel
Image: EchoGo Heart Failure is the first and only AI-enabled HFpEF detection platform for echocardiography (Photo courtesy of Ultromics)

AI Solution for Echocardiography to Revolutionize Diagnosis of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction

Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a type of heart failure often associated with co-morbidities and tends to be caused by increased pressure within the chambers of the heart.... Read more

Critical Care

view channel
Image: Lodestar DX provides lab-accurate test results in 30 minutes (Photo courtesy of Llusern Scientific)

Portable UTI Molecular Diagnostic Platform Provides Accurate Test Results in 40 Minutes

Despite being one of the most common types of infection Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are a comparatively neglected area of medicine. There are no highly accurate diagnostic tools available for point-of-care... Read more

Surgical Techniques

view channel
Image: ActivSight Intelligent Light has received CE Mark approval (Photo courtesy of Activ Surgical)

Enhanced Imaging System to Become a Game-Changer in the OR by Revolutionizing Surgical Vision

Critical structure identification and tissue perfusion assessment are essential for patients to have the best possible chance of healing well without facing life-threatening or costly complications.... Read more

Patient Care

view channel
Image: Automated cleaning system allows endoscopes to be cleaned direct from clinic (Photo courtesy of Aston University)

World’s First Automated Endoscope Cleaner Fights Antimicrobial Resistance

Endoscopes are long, thin tubes with a light and camera at one end. Due to the sensitivity of the materials and electronics they cannot be sterilized in an autoclave (a machine that uses steam under pressure),... Read more

Health IT

view channel
Image: Using digital data can improve health outcomes (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Electronic Health Records May Be Key to Improving Patient Care, Study Finds

When a patient gets transferred from a hospital to a nearby specialist or rehabilitation facility, it is often difficult for personnel at the new facility to access the patient’s electronic health records... Read more

Business

view channel
Image: The global multiparameter patient monitoring systems market is expected to surpass USD 15 billion by 2028 (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Global Multiparameter Patient Monitoring Systems Market Driven by Rising Chronic Illnesses

Multi-parameter patient monitoring equipment is used to assess the vital signs of patients who are suffering from a serious illness. These devices are meant to give the number of data sets on one screen... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2022 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.