Studying the structure of coronavirus will help discovery of vaccine

NEW DELHI: Studying the structure of the coronavirus will help the discovery of a vaccine, leading national and international therapeutics, who are trying to find a solution to the pandemic, said at a webinar organised by Bennett University on Thursday. “It’s important to know and understand the structure of Covid-19, and the protein spikes that attach to the host cell receptors,” said Robert Stroud, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California in San Fransisco (UCSF).

Speaking at a session on Therapeutics: Leads from viral and host proteins structures, Stroud said that many labs across UCSF are working together to develop antigens that will ultimately help find a solution to end the pandemic. The webinar on ‘Combating Covid-19: Biotech to the Rescue’ was organised by the Biotechnology Department under the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, Bennett University.

Using SARS-Cov2 and the HIV as an example, Thomas Tomasiak, assistant professor of biochemistry at University of Arizona, said antibody production is difficult for Covid-19 as well. Tomasiak said that his ongoing research has not yet ascertained whether preventive vaccines will be better as against drugs used to treat the infection. Currently, he suggested that repurposed drugs provide us the best short-term solution till the vaccine is ready.

Deepak Nair, professor at the Regional Centre of Biotechnology, Faridabad, said non-structure issues also persist in developing a vaccine as the virus contains both structural and non-structural proteins. He also described the work being carried out in his lab related to methylcobalamine and how it inhibits the nsp12 activity and replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus and emphasised that it should be tested experimentally.

Sreekanth Ramachandran, director of medicinal chemistry at Integral Biosciences in Noida, said that currently, India’s best shot at reducing the spread of the virus is practising social distancing. Outlining the basics of how a viral infection spreads, Ramachandran also said that there is a risk of the coronavirus mutating since RNA viruses have a high rate of mutation.

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