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Current Affairs

Identifying Coronavirus’ vulnerabilities

Date: 31 March 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


During the last six weeks, a series of research papers have appeared that offer medical solutions to defeat the life-threatening coronavirus infection - COVID 19. These are apart from the attempts to produce a protective vaccine against it.



The patients suffered severe lung damage, pneumonia, and acute respiratory syndrome, which has recently been seen again in severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) by the pathogen named SARS (called SARS-CoV coronary virus). 



  • SARS-CoV-19 is a roundish ball with spikes covering its entire body. These spikes, which are the business end of the virus, are made up of a glycoprotein.

  • The spike protein recognises a specific enzyme called ACE2 on the cell surface, kills its activity and enters the host cell, and wreaks damage.

  • Research has showed that the enzyme called Angiotensin Converting Enzyme or ACE2 fights against the viral attack and protects against damage and also that ACE2 is beneficial for hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

  • Recently a study has emerged, which revealed the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus, its entry through deactivating ACE2 of the affected individual, plus another important point, namely, treatment of the affected by using the serum of a recently recovered patient.

  • Another research group has confirmed that the novel coronavirus’ cell entry depends not only of ACE2 but another molecule (and enzyme) in the host cell, called TMPRSS2.

  • They suggest further that the latter can be blocked by a clinically proven protease inhibitor. This is an important advance, since we may now look for such blocking molecules as drugs against the dreaded enemy the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

  • We thus see four different ways of overcoming the enemy. The very first is what people must do (use protective devices and methods, do not allow community spread, stay home and safe).

  • The second is to attempt to use the serum from recovered patients to boost the immunity of the afflicted. The third is to look for drugs to treat the affected and the fourth is to devise successful vaccines.

  • Researchers across the globe are building vaccines to fight the pandemic.  But clinical trials on humans will take time to check on their efficacies and side effects, which may be as long as a year or more.