The new molecule would deprive the virus of the access it needs.
However, this is a long-term project. Laboratory experiments will continue for some time, before making way for animal models and, possibly, tests on humans.
A new molecule that researchers at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the University of Montreal are developing could curb the ability of the coronavirus to invade human cells and limit the damage that the disease then causes in lungs.
“The work consists in developing a molecule which (…) will attach to a therapeutic target, and by binding it will have two distinct effects, not a single effect”, summed up one of the project leaders, molecular pharmacologist Michel Bouvier.
The new molecule first targets the protein ACE2 which is found on the surface of cells. SARS-CoV-2 uses this protein to infect human cells, especially lung cells.
The new molecule “wipes out” the protein on the surface of cells, depriving the virus of the access it needs.
“If there is less ACE2, there are fewer ports of entry for the virus and there should be fewer viral entries,” said Mr. Bouvier. The loss of ACE2 is expected to decrease the entry of the virus. This is one of the actions of our molecule. “