CAPE TOWN - Researchers recently identified a second SARS-CoV-2 receptor which helps facilitate the virus and may explain the surge in SARS-CoV-2 infections.
In a recent study, a team of scientists led by the University of Bristol looked into how Neuropilin-1, a protein found in the human body, could facilitate the cell entry and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 which causes Covid-19.
With recent understanding, SARS-CoV-2 entered the body by binding to the ACE2 receptors found within the respiratory tract especially within the nasal cavity by infecting cells and reproducing but left many scientists conducting further research as recent discoveries found the virus capable of infecting organs outside the respiratory system.
The team of researchers have found that SARS-CoV-2 may have another receptor that assists the process of infection discovering the spike proteins of the virus ware also able to bind to Neuropilin-1 which are proteins found within the body serving numerous functions such as playing a vital role in the growth and development of the central nervous system.
Unlike the previous coronavirus outbreak in 2003, SARS-CoV had not contained the spike proteins found in SARS-CoV-2 that have caused the current Covid-19 pandemic with an ability enabling the virus to bind themselves on to receptors throughout the body increasing infectivity.
“When looking at the Spike protein sequence in SARS-CoV-2, we were surprised that there was a small chain of amino acids that seemed to mimic the protein sequence found in human proteins that interact with neuropilin-1,” said the leading scientists in the study.
Spike proteins are key to viral infections as treating a virus requires understanding how the spike proteins recognise cells to attach themselves to and invade and by preventing this part of the viral process deems the virus ineffective and unable to infect the human body, but as the team discovered the ability of SARS-CoV-2 able to bind to Neuropilin-1 which means expanding the focus of vaccine and treatments.
"Once we demonstrated that Spike protein is bound to neuropilin-1, we were able to show that the interaction promotes SARS-CoV-2 invasion of human cultured cells," the team continued, "By using monoclonal antibodies, which are proteins created in the laboratory that are similar to naturally occurring antibodies, or a selective drug that blocks the reaction, we were able to reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to infect human cells.”
The team of researchers concluded, “To defeat Covid-19, we will rely on an effective vaccine and an arsenal of antiviral treatments. Our discovery of the Spike protein’s association in SARS-CoV-2 with neuropilin-1 and its importance for viral infections provides a previously unrecognized avenue for counter treatments. For viruses to curb the current Covid-19 epidemic. ”
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