The medical urgency has not only allowed civilians to improve their overall wellbeing but also enabled researchers to find appropriate medicines to prevent the virus from mutating further. As a result, several biosciences departments worldwide have come together to create a potential coronavirus treatment. However, MIT chemists are one of the departments to design a vital drug candidate that can alleviate the mutation of coronavirus into a being’s blood cells. This drug is a meager peptide or protein fragment that can mimic a protein found on the human cells’ surface.
Even though this is one of the potential treatments, researchers have come together to show that this new peptide can interact with the viral protein that the virus utilizes to penetrate human cells. MIT professor, Brad Pentelute, quotes that his team has a resulting compound under severe exploration. Besides, the compound interacts the same way they predicted it to interact, inhibiting entities into the host cell of the human body. Since there are several ways through which the team determined the effectiveness of peptides or proteins, here is a rundown of some of them.
The Pentelute Lab started working in early march of 2020 when the virus was in its initial stages of mutation. This immediately came to order as soon as one vital experiment was printed in China, stating the virus spike protein’s Cryo-EM structure and how it binds to the human cell receptors.
A handful of SARS-CoV-2 studies show that spike protein regions, also referred to as the receptor-binding domain, interact with receptors known as ACE2 or angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. Moving on, the team of researchers found this receptor on the cell and lung surfaces. Meanwhile, it is essential to know that ACE2 receptors are vital entry points used by the virus.
Furthermore, a team from MIT utilized peptide synthesis technology to generate 23-amino acid peptides with a sequence similar to the ACE2 receptor’s alpha helix. Under such an experiment, they found out that this benchtop flow-based peptide synthesis method may develop linkages within amino acids in around 37 seconds. It also takes less than sixty minutes to generate an entire peptide molecule containing close to 50 amino acids.
In addition to the above experiment, the MIT team also administered the following:
- Synthesized shorter sequences of around 12 amino acids
- Tested both peptides utilizing MIT’s equipment
- Observed how longer peptides showed robust binding of the virus spike protein
Even though the MIT team scaled back on their on-campus research after a month of initiating the virus spike protein research, Pentelute lab, on the other hand, managed to acquire special permission to have its team continue the project. However, recently, they produced close to a hundred other peptide variants to increase their binding capacity. Such a phase came into existence to promote a higher affinity and potency to prevent viral cells from entering. Meanwhile, some researchers already sent their 23-amino acid peptides to one of the Icahn School of Medicine research labs to test human cells for covid-19 infection.
While many research groups worldwide are using various approaches to find brand-new treatments, Pentelute believes his team is one of a few working on peptides. In simpler terms, the most significant advantage of a peptide drug is that it can be developed and produced in large quantities.
Psychopathy Behind The Experiments
One of the considerable drawbacks of peptide-based medicines is that one cannot consume them orally. This can either be injected under the skin or administered intravenously. Some researchers believe that these drugs also need specific modifications to stay for extended periods in the bloodstream to be effective.
First-in-class Peptide Binder
Since we all know that coronavirus is an elongated and ever-so-emerging health crisis, more cases are getting registered daily with unidentified mutating strains. Not only is the virus mutating at a significant speed, but it has also left several researching teams in crisis to find possible treatments and vaccines.
These peptides may interact with the coronavirus spike proteins and alleviate or inactivate their capacity to trigger infections within the human body. Moreover, such technological changes will only open new assessments in the fight against this deadly virus. Meanwhile, future product development may also comprise peptide-related nasal sprays that can eliminate the passage of SARS-CoV-2. The primary goal is to neutralize the infection potently and effectively. And, with the emergence of several other variants, more researching teams are coming together to assess against further mutations.
The experimental peptide drug developed by research labs like Pentelute and MIT is just the beginning of technology and biochemical experiments coming together to find a cure for several infections and viruses. However, when it comes to this peptide, it provides various new avenues for coronavirus diagnostic and treatment modalities and thus precluding the entry of virus protein into human cells.