Next COVID-19 Drug Target: Viral "Molecular Scissor"

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Coronavirus uses enzymatic cutter for virus production and to disable essential immune proteins. American and Polish scientists, reporting October 16, 2020, in the journal Science Advances, laid out a novel rationale for COVID-19 drug design — blocking a molecular "scissor" that the virus uses fo
Coronavirus uses enzymatic cutter for virus production and to disable essential immune proteins.

American and Polish scientists, reporting October 16, 2020, 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 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (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 at UT Health San Antonio.

"This enzyme executes a double-whammy," Dr. Olsen said. "It stimulates the release of proteins that are essential for the virus to replicate, and it also…
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