In the search for a cure for the new coronavirus, the scientists looked at changes at the cellular level to identify potential drugs and compounds that may have antiviral effects. The researchers observed that cells can grow “touch” after contracting a new type of coronavirus, as well as other modifications that affect kinases in the cells. While it’s not unusual for cells to grow “touches,” the new coronavirus does seem to promote this growth. The researchers used microphotography to highlight this abnormal growth while observing changes within infected cells to find potential therapies to prevent COVID-19.
According to Newsweek, the researchers infected the monkey’s kidney cells in the lab and then used special devices to capture images of the viral action. They observed that the virus triggered the growth of filaments, which are the slender protrusions of cells rich in a protein. These tentacles are also the “antennas” of cells that detect their surroundings.
The images show that these tentacles are dotted with virus particles and dyed blue to make it clear where the coronaviruses are in these images compared to healthy cellular tissue. In a paper in the journal Cell, the authors explain that these protrusions are “significantly longer and more branched” than those in healthy tissue. The study also found that the virus can interfere with a particular type of enzyme found in cells, called kinase, that may be involved in several cell activities, including cell division.
“Viruses prevent human cells from dividing and maintain them at a specific point in the cell cycle,” study co-author Pedro Beltrao told Newsweek in a statement. “This provides a relatively stable and adequate environment for viruses to maintain replication. “
Using their research, the scientists found 87 potential drugs and compounds that can target determined kinases that develop changes after infection. Some of these drugs have been approved by the FDA, while others are preclinical or in human trials. The paper suggests that several kinase inhibitors may have strong antiviral effects, including silmitasertib, gilteritinib, ralimetinib, MAPK13-IN-1, ARRY-797, apilimod and dinaciclib. While studying monkey cells, the researchers also used human lung cells to study the effects of the drug.
Scientists need more research to determine whether and how these drugs will help cure COVID-19 in the future. Silmitasertib has been considered for human testing as a potential COVID-19 treatment. “The kinase has certain structural characteristics that make it a good drug target,” Beltrao said. “Drugs have been developed to target some of the kinases we found, so we urge clinical researchers to test the antiviral effects of these drugs in trials.” “