Rapid screening of coronavirus infection, new method published in the journal Nature

Today, Nature Microbiology, a sub-journal of Microbiology, which focuses on microbiology, has launched a peer-reviewed paper on coronavirus research. Virologists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States have reported a rapid screening method to detect the possibility of coronavirus infection in humans.

Rapid screening of coronavirus infection, new method published in the journal Nature

The researchers tested the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and quickly identified the route of the new coronavirus infection in human cells as ace2 receptors. The results have previously been made public through the preprinted website bioRxiv, in line with the results officially published by Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli’s research team in Nature.

Dr. Vincent Munster, one of the authors of the paper, studies a variety of coronaviruses found in bats, camels and other species. Scientists have discovered thousands of coronavirus sequences in wildlife populations around the world. Only a few coronaviruses are known to cross species barriers and spread from animals to humans, becoming zoonotic viruses. Unfortunately, the new coronavirus in this outbreak, like SARS virus, can cause severe respiratory diseases in humans.

Rapid screening of coronavirus infection, new method published in the journal Nature

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In classification, the new coronavirus and SARS virus belong to the beta-coronavirus type B, has been published more than 200 virus sequences;

To be able to predict the next zoonotic outbreak in a timely and accurate manner, virologists have developed a method using information from the virus’s genetic sequence to quickly screen for any newly discovered beta-coronavirus that could infect the human body.

The basis of this approach is that the entry of viruses into host cells, such as human cells, is an important step in the spread of transspecies. Specifically, all coronaviruses encode a surface protein, known as the protrusion protein (S protein), which binds to the receptors of the host cell to help the virus enter the cell. For beta-coronaviruses, a portion of the S protein, the receptor binding domain (RBD), is an intermediary that interacts directly with the host cell.

Rapid screening of coronavirus infection, new method published in the journal Nature

The SARS virus S protein binds to human cells through RBD and ACE2 receptors (Photo: Supplied)

The new method developed by Professor Munster and colleagues is the S-protein RBD for the B-type beta-coronavirus, which replaces the synthesis of the entire S-protein-full-length sequence in the traditional method, so it is faster and has a higher cost-benefit ratio.

They tested the receptor use of all published RBDs of the B-type beta-coronavirus, including the SARS virus-bound angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and MERS virus-bound dipeptidepeptidease (DPP4), and divided RBD into three branches, binding ACE2 to branch 1.

In their paper, the researchers said that during this work, an outbreak of a new coronavirus occurred. In the early days of the outbreak, Chinese scientists detected the virus from a case, quickly detected the entire genome sequence of the new coronavirus and made it available to the world. Therefore, the study authors synthesized and cloned the RBD of the new coronavirus based on the genetic sequence, and tested it with the binding human receptors used by the known coronavirus.

Rapid screening of coronavirus infection, new method published in the journal Nature

Tests for the entry of thyphilic coronavirus into cells through known receptors (Image Source: Supplied

The test results quickly confirmed that the new coronavirus, like SARS virus, can effectively use human ACE2 receptors into cells. This conclusion has been confirmed by other studies.

Recently, as structural biologists have published the results of the analysis of the high-definition structure of the new coronavirus S protein and the three-dimensional structure of the ACE2 receptor, we also have a deeper understanding of how the new coronavirus identifies and invades human cells.

Thanks to the efforts of the scientists, it is possible for us to improve our preparedness for future outbreaks of infectious diseases. And fighting the epidemic and preventing disease still requires the efforts of each and every one of us.