Study shows genomics-guided approach for Covid treatment | India News

BENGALURU: In a study published in the Nature journal Communications Biology earlier this week, an international team of researchers has analyzed genetic variation in ACE2, the receptor in humans for the Covid-19 causing SARS-CoV-2 virus from over 3 lakh individuals and identified key mutations that are predicted to make individuals more susceptible to the virus.
The team was led by MedGenome, India/USA and SciGenom Research Foundation (SGRF), India. “The team also reported ACE2 variants that can confer protection to individuals from the virus. Using published structure models of ACE2-SARS-CoV-2 interaction, the authors previously had predicted the effect of the variants and now using wet-lab experiments have confirmed these predictions,” a statement issued here read.
Using recombinant DNA and protein expression technologies, they produced several human ACE2 variants and the viral Spike (S)-protein and tested them using biochemical assays to show that ACE2 variants have altered affinity for the S-protein. And, in a step further, they showed that the recombinant ACE2 with increased affinity for the S-protein blocked the virus from infecting the cell, in line with their predictions.
“Our findings have important implications not just for predicting who might be more susceptible, but also using this information to create a drug that can trap the virus effectively. Soluble recombinant ACE2, carrying the natural variants that make it more sticky to the viral surface S-protein would be a great decoy-trap that can stop the virus on its tracks when infecting patients,” Dr Sekar Seshagiri, president, SGRF, India and a lead study author, said.
Pointing out that understanding why some individuals are more severely affected than others is important for managing at-risk individuals, the team said developing effective drugs that can combat the virus will be important for managing the disease.
“…Sustained efforts to comprehensively catalogue the various mutants and their effects on Covid-19 susceptibility will ultimately help develop targeted therapeutics to treat this deadly pandemic. We are in discussions with several pharma partners to advance their drug development work using insights from our genomics-guided study,” Sam Santhosh, CEO, MedGenome, said.

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