Scientists find new way to fight Covid by turning coronavirus against itself

A new experimental method of turning the virulence of the novel coronavirus against itself could potentially lead to novel therapeutics against Covid-19, according to a new study.

The new strategy, according to researchers led by teams from Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Boston Children’s Hospital, has shown promise in mice and in human cells in a lab dish.

It works by disrupting a critical balance in protein production within cells infected with the novel coronavirus, the study, published earlier this month in the journal PNAS noted.

When cells are infected with SARS-CoV-2, a balance is struck between allowing cells to continue to make their own life-sustaining proteins, and manipulating them into producing proteins for the virus’ replication.

Researchers said two parts of the virus contribute to this balance: one, a viral protein called Nsp1 – which reduces the cell’s ability to make any proteins – and the other, a tiny segment of viral genetic material RNA called stem loop 1.

The latter, they said, serves as an access card to get past Nsp1 and instruct the cell to make more viral proteins – access that researchers want to revoke.

In the study, scientists developed a short piece of an RNA-like molecule – called oligo – that attaches to stem loop 1 and blocks it.

By blocking the access card, scientists said they could make Nsp1 quash viral protein production.

“Once the oligo binds, stem loop 1 can’t work anymore. The virus is shut down by its own Nsp1,”…


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