More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, people are understanding that adapting to SARS-CoV-2 will likely be part of the "new normal."
Although there are some medicines available, new varieties are forcing researchers to consider new tactics. Despite the fact that there are COVID-19 vaccines, only a small portion of the world’s population has received the shots, and some recipients have nonetheless developed the illness.
Researchers have just discovered that apratoxin S4, a potential anticancer treatment candidate that targets a human protein, can prevent the replication of a variety of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A, providing a potential pan-viral therapy.
There are now several medicines that target the virus’s RNA polymerase, the enzyme it utilises to produce more of its RNA within human cells, which implies that more treatments are still required. Some of these medications, such remdesivir, must be administered intravenously and only effective when given extremely early in the course of the disease.
Several teams have reviewed medications that are already proven to treat other diseases in their search for novel treatments for COVID-19, a process known as “repurposing.”
Apratoxin S4 (Apra S4), a chemical based on a natural product with anti-cancer properties, is one such preclinical stage substance. Apratoxins have been demonstrated to be able to target Sec61, a human protein that controls how some proteins are folded and glycosylated. Viruses hijack the process and push human cells to produce functional viral proteins since they lack the tools to do so.
Hendrik Luesch and colleagues questioned if apratoxins could be a broadly effective, pan-viral drug that could also battle SARS-CoV-2 because Sec61 is required for the influenza A, HIV, and dengue viruses to cause infection.
Researchers discovered that treatment with Apra S4 decreased the amount of infected cells compared to treatment with remdesivir in studies with monkey and human cells exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The chemical was also effective against infections caused by West Nile, Zika, dengue, and influenza A viruses. Additional research found that Apra S4 reduced the quantity of viral protein generated and delivered in cells, especially the spike protein, and it slowed viral RNA replication, but it did not prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells.
The scientists used electron microscopy to observe that Apra S4 also significantly inhibited the production of new viruses, as evidenced by the fact that numerous vesicles in SARS-CoV-2-exposed monkey cells contained no or extremely few newly formed viral particles.
The findings imply that Apra S4 and other inhibitors of the human Sec61 protein are broadly acting antivirals that could aid in the fight against upcoming pandemics, however the researchers note that further research is necessary.