Potential drug target against coronavirus infection identified: Researchers

Topics Coronavirus

The scientists have identified a cellular protein that is important for the entry of the novel coronavirus into lung cells

Researchers have identified a protein present in the human body which they claim is important for the entry of the novel coronavirus into lung cells, an advance that may lead to a novel drug target for preventing the deadly disease.

The researchers, including those from Deutsches Primatenzentrum in Germany, said the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has spread worldwide, causing respiratory disease called COVID-19 in people -- leading to over 3,000 deaths, and infecting more than 90,000 individuals.

According to the study, published in the journal Cell, the virus has been spreading since December 2019, and is closely related to the SARS coronavirus that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome pandemic in 2002-2003.

It noted that currently no vaccines or drugs are available to combat these viruses.

The scientists sought to find out how the new coronavirus entered host cells, and how this process can be blocked.

They identified a cellular protein that is important for the entry of the novel coronavirus into lung cells.

"Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 requires the protease TMPRSS2, which is present in the human body, to enter cells," said Stefan Pohlmann, study co-author from the German Primate Center.

 

"This protease is a potential target for therapeutic intervention," Pohlmann said.

The researchers said a drug camostat mesilate -- approved in Japan for use in pancreatic inflammation -- is known to inhibit the protease TMPRSS2.

They investigated whether this drug can also prevent COVID-19.

"We have tested SARS-CoV-2 isolated from a patient and found that camostat mesilate blocks entry of the virus into lung cells," said Markus Hoffmann, another co-author of the study.

"Our results suggest that camostat mesilate might also protect against COVID-19. This should be investigated in clinical trials," Hoffmann said.



Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel