When the virus that causes COVID-19 enters the body, it hijacks cellular proteins and suppresses the human inflammatory response, allowing the virus to spread. University of Florida researchers have discovered a novel way in the lab to fight rapidly evolving strains of coronaviruses by breaking that cycle.
The group created a molecular “decoy” that blocks two proteins coronaviruses use to evade a normal immune system response. Blocking these proteins prevents the virus from taking hold within human cells, the researchers found. During early tests, short chains of amino acids, known as peptides, inhibited the replication and release of two coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2. The findings were published recently in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
The UF team’s compounds don’t attack coronaviruses directly, said Alfred S. Lewin, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine. “These peptides have the potential to allow our immune system to fight off the virus more effectively,” Lewin said.Learn more about UF researchers discover new way to inhibit virus that causes COVID-19