In a recent study at Kansas State University, researchers found a possible new treatment for COVID-19.
They found how small molecule protease inhibitors show potency against human coronaviruses.
These coronavirus 3C-like proteases, known as 3CLpro, are strong therapeutic targets because they play vital roles in coronavirus replication.
A protease (also called a peptidase or proteinase) is an enzyme that catalyzes (increases the rate of) proteolysis, the breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides, or single amino acids.
The study is published in Science Translational Medicine. The authors of the study include Yunjeong Kim and Kyeong-Ok “KC” Chang.
Pathogenic coronaviruses are a major threat to global public health, as shown by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or SARS-CoV; the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, known as MERS-CoV; and the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.
Vaccine developments and treatments are the biggest targets in COVID-19 research, and treatment is really key.
This study describes protease inhibitors targeting coronavirus 3CLpro, which is a well-known therapeutic target.
It demonstrates that this series of optimized coronavirus 3CLpro inhibitors blocked replication of the human coronaviruses MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 in cultured cells and in a mouse model for MERS.
These findings suggest that this series of compounds should be tested further as a potential therapeutic for human coronavirus infection.
The researchers have been trying to develop antiviral drugs to treat MERS and human norovirus infections. Their work extends to other human viruses such as rhinoviruses and SARS-CoV-2.
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