WASHINGTON: The deadly coronavirus is claiming the lives of many people across the globe and scientists are working hard to find out the appropriate medicine to treat COVID-19 patients. In a major development, scientists have identified a group of tiny molecules that could block the functioning of a main protein in SARS-CoV-2 that causes coronavirus infection. This study can provide a promising path for new therapeutics for the disease.
A team of scientists at the University of Georgia (UGA) in the US identified that the SARS-CoV-2 protein PLpro is the key protein for the replication and the ability of the virus to suppress the immune system of the host.
According to a study published in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases the compounds naphthalene-based PLpro inhibitors are proved to be effective at stopping the activity of SARS-CoV-2 PLpro activity and also the replication. The researchers also explored the inhibitors designed to knock out PLpro and stop the replication of the virus.
The scientists have started to use the compounds that have been discovered 12 years ago and shown to be effective against SARS, but development didn't go further as the SARS had not reappeared.
Scott Pegan, a professor at UGA said that, "Obviously now we see the current coronavirus is probably going to be with us for a while, if not this one, then probably other types of coronaviruses."
He further added that, "These compounds are a good starting point for therapeutic development. They have all the properties you would typically want to find in a drug, and they have a history of not being considered toxic." Pegan said that the small molecules that they are developing are some of the first that are specifically designed for this coronavirus protease.
He asserted that, "Up till now, most therapeutic work against SARS has targeted another virulence factor, C3Lpro. This is a great start with a different target. Our hope is that we can turn this into a starting point for creating a drug that we can get in front of the Food and Drug Administration."