The coronavirus is full of clusters of proteins that attach to receptors on victims’ cells and take the first step in infection, Sputnik reports. Scientists have provided the first more accurate picture of these clusters in their natural state, showing them while still attached to the virus without the use of chemical stabilizers that may distort their shape.
The method, called “cryo electron microscopy”, which combines computation, may provide faster, more accurate images of infection in various fields of coronavirus, which is an important step in drug and vaccine design.
“Currently, seven strains of coronavirus have been identified that can infect humans,” said Jing Jin, one of the project’s researchers. Four of them lead to relatively mild diseases, and the other three, including the coronavirus factor Covid-19, can be fatal.
The power of the Covid-19 virus is so great that only a few laboratories in the world can test it with a high level of immune control. For this reason, in this project, a milder string of it called NL63 has been studied, which causes cold symptoms and is the cause of about 10% of human respiratory diseases every year. “We think this strand of coronavirus binds to the same receptors on the surface of human cells that bind to the Covid-19 virus.”
To find the virus in human and animal blood and feces, Jane and her colleagues examine blood samples during outbreaks such as the current Covid-19 epidemic and evaluate the interaction between the viruses and their hosts.
According to Jane, the researchers plan to continue their work to understand how the part of the cluster that connects to human cells is activated. They also plan to use this method to study clusters of the Covid-19 virus that require special facilities.