Remdesivir is the first drug to be recommended for treatment of COVID-19. Determining the structure of its target - the viral replication machinery - is an important step in understanding how it blocks viral replication, and how other antivirals could be designed.
Computational structural biology is a powerful tool in protein design and engineering. Let’s take a look at how it is being used to design protein therapeutics and vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2
The robustness, low cost and ease of production of monobodies and nanobodies make them attractive therapeutic candidates for COVID19. High stability solves the need for cold-chain storage, and offers other routes of administration such as aerosols, which could be attractive for respiratory diseases.
To gain entry into human cells, the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses a “spike” on its surface, that recognizes receptors on human cells. One approach to making a vaccine is to immunise healthy patients with DNA or mRNA that codes for the spike protein.
The processed X-ray diffraction data used to produce the structures of SARS-Cov-2 proteins are freely available. This means that anyone can improve these models using open source software. Better structures mean more biological insights.
Like many scientific communities, structural biologists have responded extraordinarily quickly in the fight against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, also referred to as 2019-nCoV) and the resultant disease COVID-19, by determining the structure of many of the viral proteins.