Researchers find approach to corona drug

It is still not fully understood how the coronavirus infects human cells and uses them to multiply. Frankfurt researchers examined this in more detail – and also found possible therapeutic approaches.

Researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt have discovered a possible therapeutic approach against Covid-19 . In the laboratory, they analyzed how the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 changes human cells and uses them for reproduction – and how one can prevent them. 

The scientists around the virologist Prof. Dr. Sandra Ciesek smears from two infected German returnees from Wuhan . Virologists and biochemists from the university hospital constructed a cell culture model from human intestinal cells by multiplying the viruses isolated from the samples.

Cell culture model shows how SARS-CoV-2 infects cells

The researchers were able to investigate the mechanisms by which the coronavirus infects human cells. The most important finding: 24 hours after the infection, several major changes take place in the human cell. The distribution of the proteins in the cell changes so that the cholesterol metabolism is reduced. At the same time, the production of carbohydrates and RNA (abbreviation for “ribonucleic acid”, the genetic material of the virus) for the production of proteins is being intensified.

The researchers then tested various active substances on the cell culture and found several substances that have an antiviral effect, i.e. slow down or even stop the multiplication of the virus in the cell cultures. “Our findings provide knowledge for the development of therapy options for Covid-19, write the study authors around Ciesek, who is the director of the Institute for Medical Virology at the Frankfurt University Hospital.