MAY 18, 2021 8:00 AM PDT

A Silver Bullet Against COVID Variants?

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Canadian researchers have discovered an antiviral drug that blocks the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting lung cells. Promisingly, the small molecule drug known as N-0385 was shown to be highly effective against new emerging threats, the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

“In this study, we report a novel and highly potent small-molecule drug called N-0385, that acts as the most effective entry inhibitor to date,” said lead researcher Dr. François Jean, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia. 

“We demonstrate that N-0385 is broadly protective against infection and mortality in mice, and believe N-0385 has potential as a viable early treatment option against emerging SARS-CoV-2 VOCs.”

Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 have begun to spread globally, with those displaying traits such as increased transmissibility, the ability to cause more severe COVID symptoms, and being able to evade vaccines and therapeutics classified as variants of concern. These include B.1.1.7 (first identified in the United Kingdom) and the B.1.351 variant (first isolated in South Africa). 

In the study, uploaded onto the preprint server BioRxiv, Jean and colleagues showed that the broad spectrum antiviral N-0385 was able to stop the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants from entering cultured human lung cells. 

“N-0385 works by blocking TMPRSS2, an enzyme responsible for cutting and priming the viral spike protein so that it can attach and fuse with the host cell membrane, and release the virus’s genetic material,” explained Jean.

In animal studies, daily doses of N-0385 administered in the nose were shown to significantly increase the chances of survival in SARS-CoV-2-infected mice, without any detectable side effects.

“We hope that this, and related drugs, may have broader applications in combating other respiratory viruses that use the same means of entry into host cells, including established coronaviruses, influenza, and other viruses,” concludes Jean.

 


Sources: BioRxiv, University of British Columbia.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUN 08, 2021
Immunology
Is the Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccine Variant-Resistant?
JUN 08, 2021
Is the Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccine Variant-Resistant?
Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged over the course of the pandemic, threatening public health efforts to limit ...
JUN 24, 2021
Immunology
Should We Rethink COVID Vaccine Recipes?
JUN 24, 2021
Should We Rethink COVID Vaccine Recipes?
In a study reported in the journal Cell, immunologists provide evidence for an Achilles’ heel in current COVI ...
JUL 05, 2021
Health & Medicine
No Rise in Acid-Related Diseases After Reduction of PPI Use
JUL 05, 2021
No Rise in Acid-Related Diseases After Reduction of PPI Use
In a study including several million veterans as participants, researchers at the University of Michigan found that an i ...
AUG 19, 2021
Cancer
Japanese Berry Vine Could Treat Lung Cancer
AUG 19, 2021
Japanese Berry Vine Could Treat Lung Cancer
A berry-producing vine in Japan has shown promise in mouse models for treating lung cancer. The corresponding study was ...
AUG 26, 2021
Coronavirus
Researchers View COVID-19 Progression in a Live Animal Model
AUG 26, 2021
Researchers View COVID-19 Progression in a Live Animal Model
Scientists have used a mouse model to visualize the progression of a SARS-CoV-2 infection as it led to sometimes fatal c ...
SEP 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
SEP 09, 2021
Can vaccines help prevent and treat opioid addiction?
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 136 people die from an opioid overdose every ...
Loading Comments...