Coronavirus: closer to the discovery of the first effective antiviral treatment!


This is a very promising world first! A team of Belgian scientists has discovered how to prevent any form of Covid-19 infection. Prospects are therefore good for stopping the development of severe forms of this disease for good.

Although the variants currently circulating appear to be less virulent than at the height of the pandemic, there is currently no truly effective treatment for coronavirus.

For more than two years, the team of Professor David Alsteens, a researcher at the Louvain Institute of Biomolecular Science and Technology (UCLouvain), has been working to understand why and how Covid-19 manages to infect cells at the molecular level. In graphic language, it was first necessary to find the "keys" used by the virus to penetrate cells, in order to then find the "lock" to prevent it from entering.

A first step has been taken thanks to atomic force microscopy. The interaction between sialic acids (SA), a kind of sugar residue present on the surface of cells, and the Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 was identified clearly a few months ago.

Building on this momentum, the Belgian researchers have now demonstrated that multivalent structures (or glycoclusters) with multiple 9-O-acetylated sialic acids that they discovered on their surface are capable of blocking both binding and infection by SARS-CoV-2. However, if the virus cannot attach to cells, it cannot enter them either and dies after a few hours.

Obviously, multiple clinical tests still need to be performed. But in the long run, thanks to these discoveries, the development of an antiviral in aerosol form should eradicate the virus in the event of infection.