Therapy Areas: Infectious Diseases
NRL & NCATS partnership develops method to safely study COVID-19
18 September 2020 -

US Naval Research Laboratory said on Thursday that its researchers have submitted their findings about the methods in developing SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle non-infectious probes that are used to study fundamental interactions between SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins and human cells in partnership with National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Filed in ACS Nano, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, the manuscript is titled "Quantum Dot-Conjugated SARS-CoV-2 Spike Pseudo-Virions Enable Tracking of Host Cell Surface Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 Binding and Endocytosis."

SARS-CoV-2 is known to attach to angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors via its external 'Spike' proteins, which cover the surface, which the virus uses to bind with and enter human cells. The scientists noticed the potency of the quantum dot nanoparticles to induce translocation of ACE2 from the cell membrane to the interior of the cell through a process called endocytosis.

Currently, the partnership is testing the feasibility of high-throughput cellular imaging tests to screen entire libraries of therapeutic agents for inhibition of Spike/ACE2 binding and internalization at NCATS, would allow for screening of up to 1,536 drug targets per experiment.

In conjunction, the company plans to investigate the mechanism that increases infectiousness of SARS-CoV-2 with mutated Spike proteins as well as use the pseudo-virions for site-specific intracellular drug delivery for purposes of disrupting SARS-CoV-2 replication mechanisms.

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