Almost 200 experts study 3 coronaviruses and identify drugs that could treat COVID

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Almost 200 experts study 3 coronaviruses and identify drugs that could treat COVID




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An international consortium of almost 200 researchers of 14 leading institutions in five countries, has studied three different coronaviruses: SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV, with the aim of finding shared vulnerabilities by these three pathogens. The research, published in the journal Science, identifies crucial molecular mechanisms for the three coronaviruses, as well as existing drugs that could potentially be reused as treatments for coronaviruses.

Among the scientists who collaborated in the research are staff from the EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), a center also based in Barcelona; the Coronavirus Research Group of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) (QCRG) of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); the Gladstone Institutes, the Pasteur Institute, the CIBSS Group of Excellence of the University of Freiburg, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and other partners, including the biotechnology companies Aetion and Synthego.

The authors of this new study have been able to identify drug targets against these viruses, and have identified existing therapies that may have broad-spectrum activity for all three coronavirus strains. The fact that they are already used and “repositioned” therapies, as is said in these cases, means that they have already known safety profiles, and at the same time that they can constitute a rapid response treatment against emerging strains of new coronavirus.

Building on his work previously published in the magazines Nature Y Cell, scientists have determined how viral and human proteins interact, and where viral proteins are found in host cells infected by different coronaviruses. They then used this data and functional genetic screening to identify host factors that prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The data analyzed in this study will be freely accessible through the COVID-19 Data Portal.

“Our research demonstrates how biological and molecular information is directly translated into concrete tools for the treatment of COVID-19 and other viral diseases. After more than a century in which coronaviruses have been relatively harmless, in the last 20 years we have encountered three coronaviruses that have been deadly. By observing the three strains, we have been able to predict a suitable therapy for the three coronaviruses that we believe could also be effective in treating the current pandemic, as well as offering promising therapies for a possible new coronavirus ”, says Pedro Beltrao, group leader at EMBL-EBI and one of the study authors.

ONE STEP TOWARDS TREATMENT OF COVID-19

Researchers have also taken a further step by analyzing clinical outcome data from COVID-19 patients. To do this, they have identified molecules in human cells that could be targets of therapies approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have observed what effect these drugs had in patients with COVID- 19 at the clinic. This analysis has involved more than 740,000 patients in the United States with a diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infection.


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In addition to demonstrating how research at the molecular level can become powerful tools for clinical practice in the fight against COVID-19, the data and analysis carried out in this study highlight the importance of a collaborative approach you can apply to study other infectious agents in the future.

“This far-reaching international study clarifies for the first time the common properties and, above all, the vulnerabilities of coronaviruses, including the one that represents the most current challenge, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a unique and rapid way, we have been able to unite biological and functional knowledge with clinical results, providing an exemplary model in a differentiated way to conduct research on any disease, quickly identify promising treatments, and advance knowledge in science and in medicine. All of this has only been possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of world-class scientific leaders and next-generation teams of researchers at leading scientific institutions around the world, ”says Nevan Krogan, Director of the QBI and Principal Investigator of the Gladstone Institutes. .

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