Discovery of a peptide that would prevent infection of lung cells

The team managed by Philippe Karoyan, Professor Sorbonne University at the Biomolecules Laboratory (LBM, Sorbonne University / Ecole normale supérieure – PSL / CNRS) has submitted its work for publication and are available in preprint.

Several studies on Covid-19 show that the initial phase of infection involves the interaction of the viral protein SPIKE with a human receptor called ACE2, which opens, at the pulmonary level, the entry doors of cells to the virus, to the origin of the infection and the multiplication of the virus.

In addition, the researchers set out to construct peptide decoys of the human ACE2 protein by taking advantage of the data from the X-ray structures of the SPIKE / hACE2 complex, the decoys were constructed by calculation using two algorithms to optimize structure and antigenicity.

Indeed, after synthesis and validation of their ability to mimic the structure of ACE2 interacting with SPIKE, they were screened for their ability to interact with SPIKE and block viral infection on human lung cells.

Two mimes have been shown to be powerful, capable of stopping the viral infection. The interaction between these peptide mimes and the viral protein SPIKE is so strong that it is irreversible, the mimes sticking to the surface of the virus (Figure).

These decoys, exhibiting no toxicity to lung cells, constitute powerful tools that could be used in prophylactic and therapeutic approaches to fight SARS-Cov-2.

Targeting prophylaxis 2 would, as a first step, bypass the classic paradigm
development time for a new drug. Formulated in the form of lozenges
sublingual or oral or nasal spray, these peptides could help block
infection with the virus preventively.


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