A new detailed model of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the gateway for coronavirus to human cells, reveals vulnerabilities that may be useful in the development of new vaccines against Covid-19, was released this Thursday.
By combining simulations of the molecular dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 surface protein with bioinformatics analysis, the authors of the work identified new points on the spike protein surface that are less protected by the chains of sugar molecules (glycans) that line it.
The spiky protein glycans “act as a dynamic shield that helps the virus escape the human immune system“, Says in a statement the editor of PLOS Computational Biology, an open access scientific journal that published the study.
According to researcher Mateusz Sikora, from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics, in Germany, the model “can support ” new vaccine designs and antibody treatments against Covid-19, respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, at a time when variants “with concentrated mutations” appear, especially in the spike protein.
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Circulating vaccines against Covid-19 primarily target spike protein, which allows the new coronavirus (virus type) to enter and replicate in human cells generating the infection. Specific vaccines against the new variants of SARS-CoV-2, in particular the one that originated in South Africa, are being tested. According to the authors of the published study, the dynamic model created could be used to identify possible vulnerabilities of other viral proteins.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and spread rapidly around the world, making the disease it caused, Covid-19, a pandemic that has already caused more two million dead and more than one hundred million infected.
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