Viral ‘molecular scissor’ is next COVID-19 drug target

The SARS-CoV-2-PLpro enzyme with inset of viral inhibitor interaction. Courtesy Olsen Laboratory

American and Polish scientists, reporting in the journal Science Advances, laid out a novel rationale for COVID-19 drug design – blocking a molecular “scissor” that the virus uses for virus production and to disable human proteins crucial to the immune response.

The researchers are from UT Health San Antonio and the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology. Information gleaned by the American team helped Polish chemists to develop two molecules that inhibit the cutter, an enzyme called SARS-CoV-2-PLpro.

SARS-CoV-2-PLpro promotes infection by sensing and processing both viral and human proteins, said senior author Shaun K. Olsen, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and structural biology in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

Read the full news release.

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