Combating the deathly Coronavirus

March 15, 2013, German Primate Center

Scientists all over the world are on a quest for an antidote since the first patient died from the new coronavirus in summer 2012. Infection Researchers from the German Primate Center have now identified enzymes that activate the virus for infection. The scientists hope that their discovery will contribute to the development of treatment for the life-threatening disease.

The coronavirus 2c EMC/2012 causes severe respiratory disease and . So far more than half of all patients with laboratory confirmed infection died from the disease. The virus presumably originated in the . have revealed a close relationship to viruses in bats. However, it is at present unclear if the new coronavirus was transmitted from bats to humans.

Researchers at the DPZ have investigated the host cell entry of the new coronavirus jointly with colleagues from Hannover, Essen, Bonn and San Francisco. The paper by the first authors Stefanie Gierer and Stephanie Bertram was published online ahead of print by the renowned Journal of Virology.

The ("spike") of the virus attaches to host cells via the newly discovered receptor DPP4 (Raj et al. 2013, Nature) and subsequently the virus enters the cells. The activation of the spike-protein by enzymes, proteases, is a prerequisite to infectious viral entry. The researchers at DPZ have now identified two of these activating proteases, both of which constitute potential targets for intervention. Also, the group demonstrated that a serum derived from an EMC patient can block the spike-mediated entry. This proves that humans are able to generate blocking (so called "neutralizing") antibodies against the virus. For their research the team worked with harmless, artificial virus-like particles ("pseudotypes"), which may now be used as a diagnostic tool for identifying such neutralizing antibodies.

"The human coronavirus EMC is a potential threat to public health," says Stefan Pöhlmann, senior author of the study. "But our research and the research of other groups identified potential targets for intervention and might help to improve our diagnostic tools."

Explore further: New coronavirus has many potential hosts, could pass from animals to humans repeatedly

More information: Gierer, S. et al. (2013): The spike-protein of the emerging betacoronavirus EMC uses a novel coronavirus receptor for entry, can be activated by TMPRSS2 and is targeted by neutralizing antibodies. Journal of Virology. Epub ahead of print 6 March 2013. doi:10.1128/JVI.00128-13

Related Stories

New coronavirus has many potential hosts, could pass from animals to humans repeatedly

December 11, 2012
The SARS epidemic of 2002-2003 was short-lived, but a novel type of human coronavirus that is alarming public health authorities can infect cells from humans and bats alike, a fact that could make the animals a continuing ...

Secrets of new SARS-like virus uncovered (Update)

March 13, 2013
A discovery that shows how a novel—and often fatal—virus infects cells may help fight a health threat that has recently emerged on the world stage, researchers report.

UK patient dies from SARS-like coronavirus

February 19, 2013
(AP)—A patient being treated for a mysterious SARS-like virus has died, a British hospital said Tuesday.

WHO: Two more cases of new virus in Jordan (Update)

November 30, 2012
International health officials have confirmed two more fatal cases of a mysterious respiratory virus in the Middle East.

Recommended for you

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

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.