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Geometry Points to Coronavirus Drug Target Candidates

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Molecular model of a coronavirus spike protein (red) bound to an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor (blue) on a human cell.

A new mathematical model predicts the points on a virus that allow it to change shape, revealing a new way to find potential drug and vaccine targets.

Credit: Juan Gaertner/Getty Images

A study by Robert Penner at France’s Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies incorporates a mathematical model that predicts protein sites on viruses that might be particularly susceptible to disabling treatments, which has been used to identify potential drug and vaccine targets in the fight against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The technique exploits the fact that certain viral proteins change shape when viruses penetrate cells; Penner mathematically localized exotic sites that mediate this shift.

John Yin, who studies viruses at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, said much work remains to verify the study’s predictions through experimentation.

Said Arndt Benecke, a biological researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, “This could go far beyond the viruses.”

From Scientific American
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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