Coronavirus cure: Breakthrough enzyme could lead to COVID-19 cure – ‘Killing the virus’

The coronavirus has already claimed more than 7,300 live since it first appeared in China last November. Because the coronavirus strain (SARS-CoV-2) has never been seen in humans before, there is no known cure or treatment.

But Professor Marcin Drąg from the Wrocław Polytechnic in Poland believes a cure could be lurking on the horizon.

The 2019 laureate of the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) has broken down an enzyme that could effectively kill the coronavirus.

He told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “If we treat the enzyme as the lock, then we have cut the key to it.”

The novel coronavirus infects the respiratory system with COVID-19, a flu-like disease that can be lethal among certain age groups.


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The enzyme studied by Professor Drąg and his team is a so-called protease, dubbed SARS-CoV-2 Mpro.

Protease enzymes are responsible for cutting down proteins into smaller particles.

In the case of the coronavirus, the enzyme cuts through proteins and allows the pathogen to survive.

Professor Drąg said: “It allows it to survive. Stopping the enzyme immediately causes the virus to die.

“If we were to develop a drug that could inhibit the enzyme, then we are effectively killing the coronavirus.

“We know this from the last coronavirus epidemic – SARS.”

We are effectively killing the coronavirus

Professor Marcin Drąg, Wrocław Polytechnic

The novel coronavirus is a so-called beta-coronavirus, which itself belongs to the larger coronavirus family of pathogens.

Researchers have known of human coronaviruses since the 1960s and there have been worrying epidemics in the past.

Between 2002 and 2003, a new strain of coronavirus triggered the SARS epidemic – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome related coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

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Then in 2012, another coronavirus emerged and infected hundreds with MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome related coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Professor Drąg’s work is currently being peer-reviewed but he is positive it will offer a major breakthrough in fighting the coronavirus.

He said: “What we have published now is one of the most important information you can have about this enzyme.

“This is its full substrate preference.”

The expert believes the work can be used to develop diagnostic tools and test kits to determine whether someone has the coronavirus.

Professor Drąg said the work has not been patented and a pre-print of his study is available online.

He said: “This is a gift from my laboratory to everyone interested.”

The coronavirus expert is also certain his enzyme is unique and will lead to the development of drugs safe for human use.

He said: “We currently have our targets set on other proteins in this virus, not just the protease. The pace of work is quite incredible.”

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