pte20200728025 Medicine / Wellness, Research / Development
Corona viruses are strongly inhibited – researchers are paving the way for new treatment strategies
Corona viruses: LY6E immune protein has an inhibitory effect (Photo: pixabay.com, geralt)
Bochum (pte025 / 28.07.2020 / 13:30) – The protein LY6E produced by the human immune system can strongly inhibit coronaviruses, including Sars-Cov-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. This is the conclusion reached by researchers from the University of Bochum http://ruhr-uni-bochum.de in an international project. With this knowledge, new treatment options can be developed in the future. Details have been published in “Nature Microbiology”.
No merger possible
Tests with different cell cultures have shown that LY6E affects the ability of the virus to fuse with the host cells. “If the virus cannot fuse with these cells, it cannot trigger an infection,” explains last author Volker Thiel from the University of Bern, which is also involved in the project, http://unibe.ch.
The scientists succeeded in proving in the animal model using the mouse model and the protein variant LY6E, which is crucial for protecting immune cells from infections. In the absence of LY6E, immune cells such as dendritic cells and B cells become more susceptible to infection and their numbers decrease dramatically. Mice lacking LY6E in immune cells are very susceptible to and die from a normally non-fatal mouse coronavirus.
Experiments with mice
The researchers emphasize that the mouse coronavirus used in the experiment differs significantly from the causative agent of the current COVID-19 outbreak – for example, it does not trigger respiratory disease, but hepatitis. Nevertheless, it is widely recognized as a model for understanding the basic concepts of coronavirus replication and immune responses in a living animal.
“Our study brings new insights into how important these antiviral genes are for controlling viral infection and for an adequate immune response against the virus,” said the authors. “Since LY6E is a naturally occurring human protein, we hope that this knowledge can help develop therapies.”