US comes out with new ‘wonder drug’ against Covid

US comes out with new ‘wonder drug’ against Covid

New Delhi, Oct 1: US scientists have developed a new drug that can turn Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2) against itself, and block the deadly virus from infecting people, media reports said on Saturday.

The researchers from The Scripps Research Institute are reported to have found that the drug, called NMT5, is likely to be effective against the variants that can develop out of Covid-19.

The drug, noted in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, coats SARS-CoV-2 with chemicals that temporarily alter the human ACE2 receptor -- the molecule the virus normally embraces to infect cells.

When the virus is close, its path into human cells via the ACE2 receptor is blocked. In the absence of the virus, ACE2 works as usual.

"What's so neat about this drug is that we're actually turning the virus against itself," said study senior author Stuart Lipton, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute.

The team tested a library of compounds and pinpointed NMT5 as having two key properties: It could recognize and attach to a pore on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, and chemically modify human ACE2 using a fragment of nitroglycerin as the warhead.

The researchers realized this could turn the virus into a delivery vehicle for its own demise.

The team tested NMT5 in isolated cells and animals. The study showed how NMT5 attaches tightly to SARS-CoV-2 viral particles as the viruses move through the body.

The researchers then revealed the details of how the drug adds a chemical, similar to nitroglycerin, to certain molecules if it gets close enough. When the virus gets near ACE2 to infect a cell, that translates into NMT5 adding a "nitro group" to the receptor.

When ACE2 is modified in this way, its structure temporarily shifts -- for about 12 hours -- so that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can no longer bind to it to cause infection.




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