COVID-19: Current findings could enable new treatment
Despite extensive research, there is still no specific treatment that can treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. Many COVID-19 treatment options are still being tested. Researchers have now gained insights that could make a new treatment possible.
A research team led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) succeeded in destroying the genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with specific enzymes immediately after the virus penetrated the cell. According to experts, the results can be used to develop a new treatment against COVID-19.
Mechanism that can destroy RNA
as in stream Message In TUM, our genome contains the blueprints for proteins and other molecules.
In order for the cell to produce it, it must first create some kind of copy of these building instructions, which are available in the form of so-called RNA molecules. This copy is recognized and executed by cells.
Dr. explains. Thomas Mitchell, who published the current article in The Trade Journal “Nucleic Acid ResearchA study was published at the Institute of Virology at TUM and Helmholtz Zentrum München.
“This is known as RNA interference.” According to the information, short pieces of RNA are formed in the cell, known as siRNA (small interfering RNA), which can bind specifically to specific positions in the RNA molecule.
The siRNA forms a so-called RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) with proteins – an enzyme that cuts the target RNA.
2 attack points
“There have been long attempts to use this mechanism to treat diseases,” says Ulrike Protzer, head of the Institute of Virology.
There has been a lot of progress in this area in recent years. Among other things, it is now possible to stabilize siRNA through chemical modifications in such a way that it does not disintegrate so quickly in cells. “
In the case of the new coronavirus, there are two points of attack for RNA interference: On the one hand, the virus genome consists of RNA, which is inserted into the infected cell and contains the blueprint for the new viruses. On the other hand, so-called genomic RNA molecules are formed, which direct the host cell to produce viral proteins.
Which structures can be attacked better
Above all, the scientists wanted to know which of the viral RNA structures could be best attacked and at which step of the reproductive cycle the processing should take place.
“Our main finding is that RNA interference is most effective when the virus has just entered the cell,” says Chopankar Ambek, one of the study’s first authors. Here, siRNAs that selectively attack the virus genome were superior to other siRNAs that attack subgenomic RNA molecules.
Together with colleagues from Ludwig Maximilian University and Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, the researchers also conducted experiments on human lung tissue that they had infected with SARS-CoV-2.
The team was able to confirm its results in tests. In a later project, the researchers now plan to develop a method by which the active substance can be introduced into the lungs more effectively. The findings could also form the basis for treating other viral respiratory illnesses. (ad)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, clinical guidelines, and current studies and has been verified by medical professionals.
- Technical University of Munich: Targeted enzymes destroy viral RNA (Accessed: Mar 5, 2022), Technical University of Munich
- Chubankar Ambek, Zhou Chin-ching, Martin Fuerrd, Stoyan Velkov, Domizia Baldassi, Suleiman Kader Afridi, Diana Porras-Gonzalez, Shen Wei, Philip Hagen, Nicholas Kindinger, Mircea Gabriel Stolerio, Vincent Grass, Gerald Burgstaller, Andvia Merkel, Chunkyu Kou, Thomas Mitchell: Targeting the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome with siRNAs allows effective inhibition of virus replication and spread; In: Nucleic Acid Research, (published date: 12-20-20-20), Nucleic Acid Research
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.
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