How to Cure Coronavirus? Mr. Spiky’s Spike Mapped

How to cure coronavirus? No doubt, the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is making the headlines in every country. Even though WHO didn’t consider the outbreak as pandemic yet, many specialists are already calling it a pandemic. 

Many countries have already worked tirelessly to create a vaccine that could stop this ravaging virus. In the course of this attempt, the United States’ researches have published the structure of the “spike protein” of COVID-19.

Earlier the WHO warned that a vaccine is not feasible within the next 18 months, even though the researchers had already mapped the genetic sequence of this virus.

But now, mapping of the virus spike protein has helped the researchers to speed up the vaccine finding process. Now, they have a clear idea of how this virus infects the host cells using their spike. 

What is a spike protein?

Well, the spike protein of a virus is its key, with which it unlocks the cells of the host, thus entering and infecting it. Identifying how this key looks, helps us to block its entry. This paper published overnight in Science is all about this.

The spike was mapped by freezing the protein to below -150 ℃ until it crystallises, and then the structure is determined with atomic-level resolution. This is called the cryogenic electron microscopy, or “Cryo-EM” technique The team of researchers led by Jason McLellan of the University of Texas at Austin, accomplished this breakthrough. 

Not only the spike protein’ (i.e the key), they also found that COVID-19 uses the same “keyhole” used by the SARS coronavirus. It uses the human cell receptor, a protein called angiotensin, converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). 

But what is bad news is that is discovered that the spike protein “key” of COVID-19 shows 10 -20 times more affinity to bind with the ACE2. In other words, COVID-19 has more “piercing” factor than the SARS virus. This explains why the COVID-19 is more contagious than SARS, and thus the number of cases of soaring rapidly. 

How to Cure Coronavirus? Do we have a vaccine?

Unfortunately, even though the COVID-19 attacks the same protein in human-like SARS, the antibodies available against SARS virus does not have any effect on COVID-19.

Humans are in a constant battle with the virus for ages. We have continuously strengthened our weapon against the virus with continuous scientific advances, but on the hand, our enemies like viruses are also gaining strength. Now, they have super-spikes against us!

The irony is that even we identify a vaccine that can be effective on COVID-19, it would still take many more months, perhaps a year to be available for use on the public. By, then the virus would have run its course, infecting those it would infect and killing those it would kill. So, the vaccine can only be used to prevent another outbreak of a pandemic.

So, the mapping of the spike is good news for the humans, but we cannot use it to protect us from the happening danger, only promises a comforting hope in the near future.

How will you protect yourself from the spiky’s spikes until the vaccines are ready? Let’s know in the comments.


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