In parallel to the vaccination campaign, science continues to look for other ways to end the coronavirus. The latest finding has come from the hand of researchers at the Federal Polytechnic University of Zurich (Switzerland), who have discovered the “Achilles heel” of the virus, an important weak point with which its multiplication can be inhibited and, thus, open the way to the development of medicines antiviral.
The scientific team, with the collaboration of experts from the universities of Bern, Lausanne and Cork (Ireland), has managed to find a theoretical method to stop the protein production mechanism that could be the basis for future drugs against SARS-CoV-2 , as reported today by Swiss television RTS.
They slow down the reproduction of proteins
If the protein production, the viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 in infected cells would be reduced, a hitherto unknown “Achilles heel” against which very few drugs have been shown to be effective, because science has focused mainly on the development of a vaccine, the authors point out.
“Generally speaking, treatments for viral infections can target the virus, the host, or the underlying symptoms of the infection. Antiviral treatments work by interrupting the viral life cycle. For SARS-CoV-2, the life cycle can be divided into three stages: entry and trafficking of the host cell, replication of the viral genome, and packaging and exit of new virions ”, the researchers explain in the journal Science, where the study has been published.
They propose an alternative approach, which passes by “targeting the host cell pathways that are essential for virus replication, such as protein synthesis.”
Incorrect RNA reading
According to the Swiss and Irish scientists, their finding is based on the fact that cells produce proteins through one of their elements: the ribosome. This synthesizes them by reading the RNA in sequences of three letters.
To replicate in an infected cell, viruses need the ribosome to have an abnormality in that reading of the RNA genetic code, called a “frame shift” (‘frameshifting‘). The goal is that you only read one or two letters of ribonucleic acid in a sequence. Any component that manages to guarantee that wrong RNA reading never occurs can significantly weaken the virus.
The study points out the way forward to attack the virus, although it does not specify which component or certain drug could eliminate incorrect RNA readings, something that would now be left in the hands of pharmaceutical researchers.