Healthy & Fitness Article
About a month ago, Medical News Today started a series aiming to bring together the more encouraging research that emerges around COVID-19. We continue with this Special Feature that focuses on an incoming vaccine and other potential treatments for this new coronavirus and the disease it causes.
With this series, we aim to remind our readers that while COVID-19 causes great sorrow and loss around the world, the resulting global emergency has also meant that scientists are working at an unprecedented pace. They are making progress that is easy to overlook among the worrying numbers of new cases and deaths.
Two recent MNT articles COVID-19: 5 reasons to be cautiously hopeful and COVID-19: Physical distancing, drug trials offer hope looked at the latest developments in potential treatments, vaccines, and the outcomes of infection control measures during the pandemic.
We continue our series with this third Special Feature, which continues to monitor progress in the areas mentioned above.
Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
We focus on a vaccine that some researchers believe may be available by the fall and round up expert opinions on this promising development. We also cover an app-based social tracing system that could help create ‘intelligent’ physical distancing instead of national lockdowns.
We previously reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a global megatrial that involves testing four potential treatments for COVID-19. Remdesivir, initially developed to treat Ebola, was one of those four potential treatments.
Now, scientists from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, say that remdesivir is showing promise in in vitro experiments.
The same team had previously demonstrated that remdesivir effectively combatted another coronavirus, MERS-CoV. It did so by blocking polymerases, which are enzymes that allow the virus to replicate.
Study co-author Prof. Matthias Götte explains, “If you target the polymerase, the virus cannot spread, so it’s a very logical target for treatment.”
He continues to report the results of the team’s new experiments: “We obtained almost identical results as we reported previously with MERS, so we see that remdesivir is a very potent inhibitor for coronavirus polymerases.”
Prof. Götte goes on to explain, “These coronavirus polymerases are sloppy, and they get fooled, so the inhibitor gets incorporated many times, and the virus can no longer replicate.”
Still, the author cautions, “We’ve got to be patient and wait for the results of the randomized clinical trials.”
Another hopeful finding comes from researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. These scientists also started their research efforts by drawing parallels with other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
Namely, they looked at the spike protein that coronaviruses have and zoomed in further on the “fusion peptides” — these are short-chain amino acids that the spike proteins contain.
“What’s really interesting about SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and this new virus, SARS-CoV-2,
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