As the world is fighting a long battle against coronavirus, experts are constantly developing new studies on the strains and types of this virus and methods to contain its spread. Recently, scientists have stumbled across a peptide that has the potential to block the entry of the covid virus. Peptides are nothing but short chains of amino acids and are primarily present as protein components. Upon various experiments, it was found that a specific peptide can mimic the proteins found on the human cell surface and can successfully block the virus from interacting with the cells.
If you wish to get a deep insight into how this peptide can be a groundbreaking remedy against the stubborn coronavirus, refer to this research-based article.
With efforts to learn more about the coronavirus and understand its mechanism to enter the body, experts started working on obtaining reliable data. Understanding the make-up of this virus led to the discovery of the fact that peptide synthesis could be a breakthrough in restraining the virus.
The coronavirus is quite famous for its structure attributed to the spike proteins present in it. It has been found that a particular region of the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, called the receptor binding domain, forms bonds with a receptor named angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). ACE2 is found on most of the human cell surface, including those in the lungs.
Bradley Pentelute, a chemistry professor at MIT, started working closely on this matter. His team carried out computational simulations of how the binding occurs between the ACE2 receptor and the receptor-binding domain present in the coronavirus spike protein. This was carried out to understand further the interactions and how they can be used to develop remedies.
Later, Pentelutes lab started developing a specific peptide as a drug component that works by binding to the viral protein of coronavirus and eliminating it through unique pathways. This study was distributed among various expert teams and labs for further research.
Research by MIT
Regarding the results obtained by Pentelutes lab, the MIT Lab and CBA or the Center for Bits and Atoms have together designed a specific peptide using computational ways focusing on protein interactions, and the findings were quite promising.
The computational analysis concluded that this peptide or protein fragment could interact with the spike proteins of coronavirus and push them into a destructive pathway by breaking them down. The MIT lab also synthesized a 23-amino acid peptide with a similar sequence as that of the alpha-helix of the ACE2 receptor.
They also generated a peptide with a shorter sequence of 12 amino acids located in the alpha helix. The synthesized peptides were then studied, compared, and tested at the Biophysical Instrumentation wing of MIT to understand which has better binding capacity.
Results indicated that the longer peptide of 23 amino acids displayed better binding to the receptor-binding region of the coronavirus spike protein. The binding capacity of the shorter sequence peptide was not adequate and was simply negligible. These results were significant to develop the drug component accordingly.
Search for variants
More and more variants are being developed and studied to hunt down the best configuration that would result in improved interactions and binding capacity so that effective peptide drugs can come into existence in the immediate future. The Pentelute lab is constantly working on developing peptide drugs and is among the very few organizations focused on working towards the same to tackle and stop the spread of coronavirus. There are certain added advantages to these drugs, and one of the most significant is that they are comparatively easy to develop in bulk quantities.
Another benefit is the large surface area provided by peptides. Since they are larger molecules, they are more efficient in getting a grip over the virus and ultimately inhibiting its entry towards the cells, which is not usually possible with smaller molecules. Even antibodies provide a large surface area and hence are extensively used for treatments. Still, the downside is that the time required for manufacturing or developing them is pretty long. This creates a need to focus more on peptides as potential drugs to combat the global outbreak of this virus.
The only major drawback associated with peptide drugs is that they can be administered in the body intravenously or through subcutaneous injections; it is not possible to ingest them orally. It is also required that the peptide drugs are designed accurately to stay longer in the bloodstream for effective results.
The fight against coronavirus has not been easy. People live in constant fear of acquiring a viral infection, and it impacts their day-to-day lives in different aspects. Hence, it becomes essential to devise effective measures against the same. The spread of the virus has to be contained, and it calls for deep research and developments scientifically in this area.
The findings surrounding the peptide as a drug component stand out as an achievement and can pave the way to design an effective treatment against the coronavirus. With more positive results and developments coming along with this study, the scientific community sees a promising future with peptide drugs as a weapon to fight against this deadly virus.