New finding may help develop effective drugs against COVID-19

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study, researchers have identified a part of the COVID-19 virus that can be targeted by drugs that prevent the virus from replicating.

This is a key step for developing new and more effective drug treatments.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Alberta.

This study looked at a molecular process that the coronavirus uses to control how it makes the viral proteins it needs to replicate itself, called frameshifting.

Because one of the products of frameshifting is the enzyme that the virus uses to replicate itself, frameshifting is a promising target for potential drugs.

In the study, the team compared frameshifting in SARS-CoV-2 to the same process in its close cousin, the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

Their results show that both the genetics and structure of frameshifting is the same in both viruses.

This work is important because it tells us that what scientists have learned about frameshifting in the original SARS virus can also be applied to the new coronavirus, and it shows a proof of principle that small-molecule drugs can knock down frameshifting.

The researchers are planning in future work to see if this compound is also effective at suppressing the replication of the virus—even though its effect is not strong enough to make a good drug, it can teach scientists about what to look for in something that could make a good drug.

One author of the study is Michael Woodside.

The study is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.