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Croatian scientist Ivan Djikic: Identified weak spot of coronavirus

Scientist Ivan Djikic from the University of Goethe in Frankfurt and his colleagues have made their research work available to the public. A study of possible dual therapy against COVID-19.

A group of scientists from the Institute of biochemistry II of the Goethe University in Frankfurt with colleagues has recognized that the protease of the coronavirus PLpro SARS-CoV-2, similar to papain, as the main viral enzyme, but also a possible weak point of this virus, which may even be its Achilles’ heel, reports Vecernji.hr.

PLpro is necessary for processing viral polypeptides and collecting new viral particles inside a human cell. Also, SARS-CoV-2 uses this enzyme to tranquilize the immune system’s response to its presence and help viral modulation turn the work of the house immune system to its advantage.

This makes it easier to replicate and spread the virus. A group of scientists has proven that pharmacists targeting the PLpro protease via a noncovalent inhibitor block the spread of the virus and increase immunity against new coronavirus in human epithelial cells, the first entry point of the virus into the body.

The results of this research are available to the public as a work proposed for publication in the scientific journals of Nature.

“Our results offer an exciting opportunity for a two-pronged therapeutic strategy by targeting the PLpro protease – simultaneously stopping the virus and boosting the immune system.”

“In order to gain such insight, we have combined the biochemical, structural, and functional knowledge that exists at our Institute, so I am incredibly grateful to my group of scientists, which has really achieved a lot in a short time.”

“Our joint research work with the Institute of Medical Virology led by Sandra Ciesek was essential to show how PLpro protease inhibition stops the virus,” said Prof. dr. Ph.D. Ivan Djikic, who is the head of a team of scientists from Goethe University who will sign the research work.

In addition, other scientists in Frankfurt, Munich, have contributed experimental data, reagents, and advice, according to a statement on this scientific achievement. These results provide a clear scientific logic by which further research into compounds and drugs targeting the PLpro protease coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can be continued.

In addition, US clinic is currently conducting clinical trials of Famotidine targeting PLpro in patients with COVID-19.

“This is exciting news. However, the effects of Famotidine on viral PLpro have not yet been confirmed. We also need to be extra careful in clinical use, as innovative therapies against PLpro may differ depending on whether they are early or later stages of COVID-19.” say Djikic and Ciesek.

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