A research team at the University of Bristol said their discovery was “ground-breaking”. They hoped it would “stop the virus in its tracks”. Leading the team was Professor Christiane Schaffitzel from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry and Professor Imre Berger from the Max Planck Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology.
The “druggable pocket” on the virus’ surface may be able to be injected with antiviral drugs that could stop it working before it enters a human cell.
The virus appears to use a molecule called linoleic acid to bind itself to human cells, it then replicates.
The anti-viral drug may be able to disrupt the virus binding, thus making it not infectious.
Professor Berger said: “We were truly puzzled by our discovery, and its implications.
“So here we have LA, linoleic acid, a molecule which is at the centre of those functions that go haywire in COVID-19 patients, with terrible consequences.
“And the virus that is causing all this chaos, according to our data, grabs and holds on to exactly this molecule, basically disarming much of the body’s defences.
“Our discovery provides the first direct link between LA, COVID-19 pathological manifestations, and the virus itself.
“The question now is how to turn this new knowledge against the virus itself and defeat the pandemic.”
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“Our discovery of a druggable pocket within the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein could lead to new antiviral drugs to shut down and eliminate the virus before it entered human cells, stopping it firmly in its tracks.”
In the US president Donald Trump has boasted that pharmaceutical company Pfizer could win the race to create a coronavirus vaccine.
Speaking to Fox News he said: “Pfizer’s doing really well.
Referring to the competition in the US, he added: “Johnson & Johnson…they’ll probably be a little later.”