How to stop SARS viruses from reproducing

June 29, 2006
How to stop SARS viruses from reproducing
The bright spot surrounded by a corona looks harmless, but it is a deadly pathogen: A corona virus causing SARS. The virus was first identified by the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. Picture by Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine.

In times of the “bird flu” SARS seems to be no threat anymore. This notion is deceptive. Experts assume that viruses causing the severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS, or other related corona viruses, could re-emerge at any time and might pose a global public-health threat.

From November 2002 to June 2003, 8,500 patients were infected with an at that time unknown pathogen originating in southern China; 800 humans died. Then, the epidemic was controlled and it’s cause detected. The pathogen was a novel corona virus. Such viruses are extremely alterable.

Now, researchers of the “Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie” (FMP) in Berlin have synthesized substances that target a vital enzyme of the SARS virus, namely it’s main protease. “We were systematically looking for molecules to prevent the corona virus from reproducing itself”, says Prof. Jörg Rademann. He heads the group “Medical Chemistry” at the FMP. Rademann adds: “We hope that our research can help to produce suitable drugs against such viruses in a short time, especially in the case of a new epidemic.”

The main protease proved to be a good starting-point for the researchers: The group of Prof. Rolf Hilgenfeld at the University of Lübeck provided the protein and solved its structure. The viral enzyme cuts long protein molecules manufactured by the virus in the host cell into small pieces. The main protease is essential for the reproduction of all corona viruses and it has an almost identical structure in all of these pathogens. Thus, once a substance that attacks the main protease is found, scientists would have a wide range of possibilities to fight different corona viruses.

Rademann and his team, together with colleagues, have synthesized for the first time molecules that attach themselves to the main protease without being chemically reactive. Most importantly, this process is reversible, thus minimizing side-effects of potential drugs. The researchers presented a collection of substances that resemble the natural substrate of the main protease.

Even if it is still a long way from such a collection to suitable drugs, the newly synthesized peptide aldehydes mark an important step towards a therapy for SARS. The next goal is to identify the most effective peptide aldehydes out of the collection and then to further optimize the substance. “If we are successful, the next outbreak of SARS will pose a much smaller threat to public-health and we will not be helpless”, says Rademann.

Source: Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)

Explore further: First real-world studies report glecaprevir/pibrentasvir to be effective and well tolerated in chronic HCV infection

Related Stories

First real-world studies report glecaprevir/pibrentasvir to be effective and well tolerated in chronic HCV infection

April 12, 2018
The results of the first real-world studies assessing the effectiveness and safety of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (G/P) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection have confirmed high rates of viral suppression ...

AIDS virus may accelerate aging, scientists say

June 8, 2011
Heart attacks out of the blue, bottom-scraping testosterone levels, nerve damage and bone-withering osteoporosis are not regarded as the normal fate of a man in his 40s or early 50s. Stuart Smith did not expect to have to ...

Drug designer: New tool reveals mutations that cause HIV-drug resistance

July 8, 2011
Protease inhibitor drugs are one of the major weapons in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but their effectiveness is limited as the virus mutates and develops resistance to the drugs over time. Now a new ...

Hepatitis C, a leading killer, is frequently undiagnosed but often curable

February 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Hepatitis C virus — not AIDS-causing HIV — is the leading chronic virus infection leading to death in the United States, and its victims most often are baby boomers. More than half who are infected ...

Certain HIV medication associated with adrenal dysfunction in newborns of HIV-1 infected mothers

July 5, 2011
Infants of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) infected mothers who were treated before and after birth with the protease inhibitor lopinavir-ritonavir were more likely to experience adrenal dysfunction, including life-threatening ...

New data for HCV genotype 4 patients with simeprevir- and sofosbuvir-based regimens

April 12, 2014
Results from RESTORE , a phase III, multicentre, single-arm, open-label study presented today at the International Liver Congress 2014 showed that simeprevir 150 mg once-daily for 12 weeks in combination with peginterferon ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals new therapeutic target for slowing the spread of flu virus

June 22, 2018
Influenza A (flu A) hijacks host proteins for viral RNA splicing and blocking these interactions caused replication of the virus to slow, according to new research published in Nature Communications by Kristin W. Lynch, Ph.D., ...

Research team discovers drug compound that stops cancer cells from spreading

June 22, 2018
Fighting cancer means killing cancer cells. However, oncologists know that it's also important to halt the movement of cancer cells before they spread throughout the body. New research, published today in the journal Nature ...

New study shows how gut immune cells are kept in control

June 22, 2018
Every day, the human gut works on a fine-tuned balance that ensures the retention of essential nutrients while preventing infection by potential armful microbes. Contributing to this surveillance system is a specialised group ...

Kidney cells engineered to produce insulin when caffeine is present in the body

June 22, 2018
A team of researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Basel in Switzerland and Institut Universitaire de Technologie in France has that found that embryonic kidney cells engineered to produce insulin when exposed to ...

New technique helps uncover changes in ALS neurons

June 22, 2018
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered that some neurons affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) display hypo-excitability, using a new method to measure electrical activity in cells, according to a study ...

Broken shuttle may interfere with learning in major brain disorders

June 22, 2018
Unable to carry signals based on sights and sounds to the genes that record memories, a broken shuttle protein may hinder learning in patients with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, and autism.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.