Researchers say they aren’t surprised by the coronavirus’s ability to mutate, but they are working on ways to stop the spread. UF Associate Professor of Pathology David A. Ostrov’s discovery about the UK variant has identified 40 candidate drugs that could serve as additional tools in the fight against COVID.
“It appeared to me that there was a pattern that no one else in the world has recognized,” Ostrov said. “Which is a pattern of three mutations in a part of the spike protein of the coronavirus, but not in the part that binds to the receptor in the coronavirus.”
Ostrov said the location of the pattern is why the variant spreads so fast. “Think of it like the legs of a tent. It appears to be affecting the legs of the tent of the virus. If you can take the tent down faster, that will allow you to set up camp, and then get down and move on faster than you would have otherwise. So the pattern is creating a situation where the pattern can collapse all the legs at the same time to make it replicate faster,” he said.
With this knowledge, Ostrov asked if any FDA-approved drugs might fit in the pocket that is present in the UK variant. “I modeled the UK variant, and then tried to use UF supercomputer to fit each one of more than 1200 drugs into that exact site, and then asked which are the ones that are most likely to fit there,” he said.Read more about UF Health Study Will Examine Drugs To Treat Coronavirus UK Variant.