The pocket could be injected with antiviral drugs to stop it working
Bristol University described their findings as a potential ‘game changer’
However, experts said drug development such as this can take years
By VANESSA CHALMERS HEALTH REPORTER FOR MAILONLINE
Scientists believe they may have made a Covid-19 treatment breakthrough after finding a weakness on the virus’ spike protein.
A ‘druggable pocket’ was discovered on the virus’ surface, which could be injected with antiviral drugs to stop it working before it enters more human cells, scientists claim.
University of Bristol, which led the study, said the researchers described their findings as a potential ‘game changer’ in defeating the current pandemic.
Lead researcher Professor Imre Berger said if they can fill the pocket with disabling molecules, it will defeat the virus ‘before it could even infect us’.
However experts have said although the research is a big leap forward, drug development can take years and it’s unlikely such an antiviral like this would be available any time soon.
Only one drug has so far been proven to treat Covid-19. Dexamethasone, a £5 steroid, was found to cut the number of critically ill patients dying by a third.
Hydrocortisone was the second widely-used steroid to become a breakthrough treatment for Covid-19.
Remdesivir, an experimental Ebola drug, became the first medicine approved for coronavirus patients in Britain. It has shown to reduce disease severity but not strongly cut deaths.
The surface of the coronavirus has proteins sticking out of it, known as spike proteins, that have the appearance of tiny little crowns.
The spikes are embedded in a membrane, inside of which is the viral genome wrapped up in other proteins.
The research team, led by Professor Imre Berger and Professor Christiane Schaffitzel, used a powerful imaging technique to analyse SARS-CoV-2 Spike at near atomic resolution.