A project developed by experts from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) identifies different molecular compounds that prevent the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells, inhibiting the interaction that occurs between the spicule protein or S from the virus and cell receptors.
These molecules act in very early stages of the viral replicative cycle, so they could prevent hyperactivation of the virus. immune system that triggers the cytokine storm during worsening of the covid-19. In addition, they could be used to develop antiviral drugs against this coronavirus.
Researchers have succeeded in inhibiting entry of the virus at low concentrations without generating host cell toxicity. This generates a broad selectivity index, an important factor when developing antiviral drugs.
The compounds identified as virus entry inhibitors are molecules of the group led by Maria Jesus Perez Perez, CSIC researcher at the Institute of Medical Chemistry (IQM-CSIC). “They seek to block the main door through which the virus accesses the cell interior. In this way, they would protect the cells from viral infection ”, he explains.
The scientists tested the drugs using viral pseudoparticles with the SARS-CoV-2 protein S expressed on their surface. Next, its ability to interfere between the binding of said protein with the cellular receptor and subsequent infection was analyzed.
“We have achieved the inhibition of the entry of the virus at low concentrations without generating host cell toxicity. This generates a broad selectivity index, a parameter that measures the difference in concentrations between antiviral activity and toxicity against uninfected cells. It is an important factor when developing antiviral drugs”Says Pérez.
Its use as a preventive treatment for infection could even be considered. From now on, a long journey begins that includes its preclinical study and its efficacy evaluation in an animal model.
María Jesús Pérez, from the CSIC
The identified compounds act in very early stages of the viral replicative cycle. By preventing the virus from replicating in the cell, they could avoid the effects of the cytokine storm. “You could even value its use as preventive treatment of infection. From now on, a long journey begins that includes its preclinical study and its efficacy evaluation in an animal model ”, he concludes.
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