SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

New coronavirus inhibitor identified

An article published on Thursday in PLOS Pathogens introduced a new compound effective against coronaviruses including SARS and MERS.

The research also identified a specific process in the coronavirus' early stages of production in human host cells, which the compound targets.

The team of scientists was led by Edward Trybala, of the University of Gothenburg, and Voker Thiel, of the University of Berne. The team identified a compound called K22 that showed effectiveness against all coronaviruses tested as well as efficient inhibition of virus cells lining the human airways, which is the natural method of entry for respiratory viruses.

The K22 compound was shown to act during an early stage in the life of the coronavirus when the coronavirus re-shapes the membranes of human host cells in order to create a type of scaffolding on which the virus production system is built. K22 inhibits the coronavirus from using the host membranes for this purpose.

"The remarkable efficacy of K22-mediated inhibition of coronavirus replication confirms that the employment of host cell membranes for viral RNA synthesis is a crucial step in the coronavirus life cycle, and importantly, demonstrates that this step is extremely vulnerable and also druggable for antiviral intervention," the article's authors said.

The research is the first, preclinical step in the use of K22 for this proposed mode-of-action.