ASU scientists develop drugs to combat COVID-19

1 February 2022 Department of Information and Media Communications
The authoritative scientific journal Chemistry - A European Journal published an article by a large international team, with participation of scientist of the Russian-American Anti-Cancer Center, Associate Professor of the Department of Organic Chemistry of the Institute of Chemistry and Chemical-Pharmaceutical Technologies of Altai State University Dmitry Shcherbakov.

Researchers from Russia, Italy, Finland, Taiwan, and China have teamed up to develop a drug capable of blocking the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cells by interacting with the surface protein of the virus.

The article titled "Structure and Interaction Based Design of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Aptamers" describes how a hybrid approach was used to find the drug, including elements of combinatorial biology and quantum chemistry. As a result of this study, not only the structures of aptamars were theoretically proposed, but it was also experimentally proven that they are able to specifically interact with RBD (the receptor-binding domain of the surface protein of SARS-CoV-2). An analysis of the interaction of apramers with RBD showed its high affinity. The published results are not the final of the study, but an intermediate stage, the work continues.

“Due to the difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work on the development of vaccines and drugs capable of blocking SARS-CoV-2 is being carried out by scientists in almost all scientific centers of the world, Altai State University is no exception. A lot of work on the screening of potential blockers of the main SARS-CoV-2 protease is carried out at the Department of Physicochemical Biology and Biotechnology together with the Research Institute of Chemistry of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Department of Medicinal Chemistry under the direction of Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Salakhutdinov N.F.) and Moscow State University (Prof. Vatsadze S.Z.). And now the results of another great work have been published, where a different methodological approach is used. Not a search of substances, but a rational design with subsequent proof using immunochemistry methods,” explains D. Shcherbakov. “The results obtained are very encouraging. Despite the high variability of SARS-CoV-2, this virus has vulnerability points that can be “hit” in order to neutralize the virus, or at least weaken it. At the same time, the substance acting as a “magic bullet” is a nucleic acid, which means that it is safe for the body and will not cause adverse reactions. In general, in the world in recent years there has been an increasing interest in drugs based on DNA and RNA, this is confirmed by mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 such as mRNA-1273 (Moderna) and BNT162b2 (BioNTech, Pfizer).”

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