Scientists have identified two peptides from the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that hint at the deadly pathogen’s ability to enter host cells. They hope to use this finding as a means to slow down the spread of the virus.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is one of the latest problem viruses to have emerged this decade. MERS-CoV is the sixth new type of coronavirus like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Coronaviruses are so called because they have crown-like projections on their surfaces. "Corona" in Latin means "crown" or "halo." Symptoms of MERS-CoV infection include renal failure and severe acute pneumonia, which often result in a fatal outcome.
Using X-ray crystallography, researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai have identified two peptides from the MERS virus. In addition, they have found that one of those peptides, called HR2P, can effectively inhibit MERS-CoV replication. They hope that this will lead to the development of a means to inhibit the growth and spread of the virus.
Since September 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) has counted 180 lab-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection worldwide, including 77 deaths. Any research that hints at a means to attack the virus is to be welcomed.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper titled "Structure-based discovery of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus fusion inhibitor".