09/04/2020 Therapeutics & Vaccines

Study finds a protein that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 multiplication in vitro

A recent study published in the scientific journal Cell, demonstrates the therapeutic potential of a recombinant soluble protein (produced in the laboratory) rhsACE2 to fight SARS-CoV-2 virus infections.

Endogenous ACE2 exists at the surface of human cells and is used by the virus to enter these cells where it can multiply. Proteins at the surface of the virus bind ACE2, forming a key and lock system that triggers cell entry. One way to interfere with viral entry in our cells is to reduce binding of the virus to ACE2, the lock. Recombinant rhsACE2 protein would act as a decoy lock to the virus thus leaving fewer viral particles free to bind cell’s endogenous ACE2. This effectively reduces the ability of the virus to enter cells and multiply. This is what the authors of this study set out to test. They found that in vitro it was possible to reduce virus entry into human cells by administering the recombinant form of ACE2 protein. This study was conducted under laboratory conditions, but clinical trials with patients have started to assess the protective potential of ACE2 in a COVID-19 infection scenario.

The recombinant ACE2 protein used in this study was repurposed from undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of a type of respiratory insufficiency known as “acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)”. In these trials, ACE2 was well tolerated, showing no signs of toxicity, which is very encouraging for its possible use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Contributing Scientist: Cláudio Franco (iMM)

SciCommers involved in translation and editing: Catarina Saboga and Hugo Soares


Scientific paper

Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2