While the death toll in China's Coronavirus climbs to 2,118, affecting almost 75,000 people until now, scientists from around the world are trying to develop potential vaccine and drugs for Covid-19. Now, the researchers have found out the molecular structure of a key protein that the virus uses to invade human cells. The scientists believe that the new discovery would open a door to the development of a vaccine for the Wuhan Coronavirus.
It should be noted that earlier researchers mentioned that the virus invades cells through the spike proteins which take on different shapes in different coronaviruses. Jason McLellan, senior author of this study and an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin stated that figuring out the shape of this protein in SARS-Cov-2 is the key to figuring out how to target the Coronavirus.
The key role of Spike protein
Even though the coronavirus uses many different proteins to invade human cells, the spike protein is the major element. After the spike protein binds to the human cell receptor, which acts as a doorway into the cell, the viral membrane fuses with the human cell membrane. Then it allows the genome of the virus to enter human cells and start affecting the human body. In this case, if the attachment and the fusion can be prevented, then the virus can be prevented, said McLellan.
Earlier scientists have published the genome of SARS-Cov-2 by using which McLellan and his team, along with National Institutes of Health (NIH) has identified the specific genes that code for the spike protein. Later, the team of scientists send the information to a company which created the genes and sent them back which was then injected into mammalian cells in a lab dish. Researchers noticed that those modified cells had produced the spike proteins.
The group created a 3D map of the spike proteins which revealed the structure of the molecule, mapping the location of each of its atoms in space. Now the researchers are sending these atomic coordinates to dozens of research groups around the world who are working to develop Coronavirus vaccine or drugs.
The fear around the Coronavirus
Chinese experts warned that the novel Coronavirus may become a chronic disease and exist in the world like influenza and could attack multiple organs. On Wednesday, a deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wang Chen raised the alert adding that it is a high time to prepare through daily prevention and clinical diagnosis.
Almost after a month of clinical treatment, three experts from China's central medical team said that it is more difficult to treat severe cases of COVID-19, as the virus could harm multiple organs besides the lungs.
While there are several claims about the cure of this virus outbreak, new reports revealed that blood from cured coronavirus patients could help to treat infected individuals. Earlier it was reported that a Chinese senior health official asked recovered patients to donate blood plasma on Thursday, February 13, which could be useful to treat sick patients.
Experts claimed that individuals who recovered from COVID-19 still have the antibodies to the coronavirus circulating in their blood. So, if those antibodies are injected into sick patients, it could help them to fight against the virus.