SARS yields secrets… and drug targets

Related tags Severe acute respiratory syndrome Sars

A team of scientists studying severe acute respiratory syndrome
has, for the first time, described how the coronavirus (SARS CoV)
manufactures several of the materials required for viral
replication.

A team of scientists studying severe acute respiratory syndrome has, for the first time, described how the coronavirus (SARS CoV) manufactures several of the materials required for viral replication.

By the end of June, the World Health Organisation had recorded about 8,400 cases of SARS, and approximately 800 deaths. The rapid spread of the virus from its likely source in Guangdong province, China, as well as its high rate of mortality, has led to a major effort in laboratories around the world to develop effective treatments.

"It is essential, when you are looking for ways to stop a disease, that you know exactly how viruses make copies of themselves and spread,"​ explained Dr John Ziebuhr, from the University of Würzburg in Germany.

The team has identified nucleic acids and proteins that are produced by SARS CoV inside infected cells. "Now that we know the properties of some of the proteins necessary for viral replication, we can discover ways to stop it, and prevent the virus from spreading,"​ said Dr Ziebuhr.

One protein is emerging as a particularly promising drug target, according to the researchers. This enzyme, called coronavirus main proteinase, is almost identical in every coronavirus studied so far, and this will allow the researchers to use existing information about the structure of other coronaviruses' main proteinases to design specific inhibitors of the SARS CoV version.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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