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Towards a new antiviral strategy against covid-19?

To replicate in cells, the SARS-CoV-2 virus interacts with different proteins and nucleic acids (DNA or RNA). A research consortium involving researchers from the Laboratory of Optics and Biosciences has just identified a specific interaction that paves the way for new antiviral compounds.

An interdisciplinary consortium of scientists from the Institut Pasteur, École Polytechnique, the Institut Curie, Inserm, the CNRS and the universities of Paris, Paris-Saclay, Bordeaux and Toulouse have demonstrated a specific interaction between a SARS-CoV-2 protein (Nsp3 protein) unusual DNA or RNA structures called G-quadruplexes or "G4", formed by guanine-rich nucleic acids. They also showed that small heterocyclic molecules binding these G4s (called G4 ligands) prevented this interaction, opening the path to new therapeutic treatments.

For more information: Institut Pasteur website

"In terms of therapeutic developments, new patented ligands developed in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux have proven to be very effective against the virus in infection models in cultured cells. Their toxicity in animals is currently being studied and the initial results are very encouraging" explains Jean-Louis Mergny, Inserm Research Director at the Laboratory of Optics and Biosciences (LOB: a joint research unit CNRS, École Polytechnique - Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Inserm).

This fundamental research on understanding the interactions of the virus in the cellular environment could lead to the use of these G4 ligands as powerful antiviral compounds.