Scientists have discovered a possible new way to fight COVID-19 by turning part of SARS-CoV-2 against itself. According to the team led by Research from the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, this new strategy shows promise in mice and human cells in a lab dish.
The study offers an innovative approach for scientists to develop drugs that attack SARS-CoV-2 and other harmful viruses. Such drugs could work across many SARS-CoV-2 variants because the strategy targets a part of the viral genome that doesn’t often mutate. The findings were reported on Feb. 11 in PNAS.The experimental treatment described in the current study and any others that it may inspire is still far from hitting hospital beds and pharmacy shelves.
The Research team found that two parts of the virus contribute to this balance. One, a viral protein called Nsp1, reduces the cell’s ability to make any proteins at all. The other, a tiny segment of viral RNA called stem-loop 1, serves as an access card to get past Nsp1 and instruct the cell to make more viral proteins. The Research wanted to revoke that access.