Sars-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, infects a person by first binding its spike protein to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of human cells. Blocking this process could theoretically inhibit infections when tissues are exposed to the virus.
A research team led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, suggests that a variant of the receptor—one with an even stronger ability to bind to the coronavirus—might work as a therapeutic candidate against COVID-19 by acting as a decoy to lure the virus away.
In a new study published in Science, the team showed that one soluble receptor protein dubbed sACE2.v2.4, a variant with three mutations, was significantly more efficacious at neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 infection than was the unmodified protein in cultured cells.
New Diagnostic Tests for Severe Childhood Illness Linked to COVID-19
While most children exposed to the novel coronavirus suffer only a mild infection, others may develop a rare but severe reaction that attacks several organs at once, requiring intensive rescue care.
To better diagnose this complication of COVID-19—known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C—the National Institutes of Health launched a research funding program that will offer up to $20 million in grants over the next four years.
MIS-C can be fatal, and has been shown to affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin and eyes. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracking a group of MIS-C patients—at a median age of eight years old—showed 80% required intensive care, with many receiving ventilator support and treatments for circulatory shock.