CORONA! CORONA! CORONA! It’s the most common term we hear now. Well, this article is not something that tells you again what you’ve listened to all long. We now get to know how this virus gets into our system and how it works?
So finally, scientists bring more information about how the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 binds with human respiratory cells and hijacks them, producing more of itself.
Qiang Zhou, a research fellow at Westlake University in Hangzhou, China, and his team, revealed how the threatening coronavirus attaches to a receptor on respiratory cells called angiotensin, converting enzyme 2, or ACE2.
Thomas Gallagher, a virologist at Loyola University Chicago who was not involved in the new research but studies coronavirus structure, said that the team had pictures down at the level of atoms that interact at the binding interface. He added that the level of information at such a deep level is unusual at this stage.
“Getting such information in two months, which is a short time, is great. It would traditionally take much longer,” Gallagher said.
The information is vital; he said, as understanding how the virus enters the cells can contribute to finding drugs and even vaccines against it.
HOW DOES IT ENTER AND DOES ITS WORK?
The virus needs to gain entry into the human body. It uses cells’ machinery to produce copies of itself, then split out and finally spread to new cells, thus continuing their growth.
There’s a key called spike protein (also called S-protein). A research team led by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin who described the tiny molecular key on SARS-CoV-2 that gives the virus entry into the cell found this. Zhou and his team described the rest of the puzzle, the structure of the ACE2 receptor protein (which is on the surfaces of respiratory cells), and how it and the spike protein interact. The researchers published their findings in the journal Science on March 4.
Once the S-protein grabs the ACE2 receptor, then the virus enters the body.
Zhou and his team used a tool called cryo-electron microscopy, which employs deeply frozen samples and electron beams to image the tiniest structures of biological molecules. They also said that the molecular bond between the virus and the ACE2 receptor was similar to the coronavirus that caused an outbreak of SARS in 2003. There are few differences, too, they added.
There are a few other coronaviruses that people think of as common cold. These don’t react with the ACE2 receptor, but they get into the body using other receptors on human cells. The stickiness could affect how easily a virus transmits from one person to another.
The structure of SARS-CoV-2’s “key” and the body’s “lock” could theoretically provide a target for antiviral drugs that would stop the new coronavirus from getting into new cells.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have said that the earliest a coronavirus vaccine could be available is in a year to a year and a half.
For more interactive information on coronavirus attacks, see:
Let’s hope that this virus gets a vaccine and a cure. Finally, all we want is all the world to be HAPPY.