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Coronavirus’ Achilles’ heel

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Researchers may have found coronavirus’ Achilles’ heel

By Paula Froelich, NY Post, April 5 2020:

There may be some good news on the coronavirus horizon, as Scripps Research reported it may have found COVID-19’s Achilles heel.

The research shows a specific area of the virus could be “targeted with drugs and other therapies, a finding that also could help with the development of a vaccine,” according to the San Diego Tribune.

The targeted area, according to biologist Ian Wilson, who led the scientific team, “is crucial to spreading the highly contagious virus, and … its composition suggests that it would be vulnerable to drugs.”

The discovery was published Friday in the journal Science and comes as scientists globally are working feverishly to find a vaccine or cure for the pandemic that has devastated global markets and caused more than 63,000 deaths worldwide.

An antibody taken from a SARS patient years earlier was used in the discovery, as researchers realized it had attached itself to a specific part of the virus, and were able to repeat the phenomenon with COVID-19, helping to identify a coronavirus weakness, according to the report.

“That high degree of similarity implies that the site has an important function that would be lost if it mutated significantly,” Scripps Research said in a statement Friday.

Sadly, the weak spot isn’t easy to find.

“We found that this (spot) is usually hidden inside the virus, and only exposed when that part of the virus changes its structure, as it would in natural infection,” Wilson’s colleague, Meng Yuan, said in a statement.

The institute is seeking the public’s help and is looking for COVID-19 survivors who would be willing to donate some of their blood, which would then be screened for potentially useful antibodies.

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