Canadian scientists create compound that neutralizes COVID-19

Ontario researchers have created chemical compounds that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some of its variants.

Detailing their findings in a paper recently published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, researchers at the University of Toronto (UofT) created a “D-peptide” that can neutralize viruses and prevent infection of cultured human cells.

D-peptides, also known as “mirror image peptides,” are chemical compounds whose properties have allowed them to be developed into low-cost antiviral therapies, according to a release.

“Our peptides work similarly to antibodies that block viruses from entering cells, but have certain advantages that they are cheaper to manufacture. [and] they have long-term stability,” said UofT professor and senior study author Philip Kim on CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday.

In general, peptides are quickly broken down inside the body by enzymes that attack harmful bacteria and pathogens. However, the peptides in the mirror are resistant to degradation.

Kim’s team engineered several D-peptides that mimic the part of the SARS-CoV-2 mutant that binds to the cell surface, via the ACE2 receptor. The peptides bind to the receptor before the virus reaches the cell, preventing infection.

Two high-security laboratories in South Korea confirmed the test with cultured human cells and active peptides against infection of the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants of COVID-19.

Kim is confident that the peptides can also be made to work against the Omicron variant.

“Based on the testing we have done over the last week or two, we believe it will be effective against Omicron and updating our compound to be effective against Omicron will be very quick. ,” he said.

Kim says that because D-peptides can be used to fight disease in highly targeted ways, his technology could be used to fight Alzheimer’s, cancer or any future coronavirus. future.

Kim and his team have partnered with a Boston biotech company called Decoy Therapeutics to commercialize their research, but Kim says there’s no reason it shouldn’t be made in Canada.

“It will be at least two years before it is released to the public,” he said.


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