It is probably safe to say that COVID-19 has affected the daily lives of most people across the world. Indeed, many of us will be isolating from others (in some shape or form) in the absence of an established COVID-19 therapy that would bring case numbers down and give us the security to go about as normal.
Currently, medical practices aim to relieve symptoms, provide supportive care and treat any secondary infections that may arise. However, at an unprecedented pace, the movement towards new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines is paving the way for life to return to normality.
In a recent study, researchers analysed how SARS-CoV-2 (responsible for COVID-19) changes the levels of different proteins in human cells (the proteome). Viruses typically do this so that they can produce more virus particles and spread to further cells.
In particular, SARS-CoV-2 was found to increase levels of proteins involved in cellular processes such as translation, proteostasis, glycolysis, splicing and nucleotide synthesis.
By treating the infected cells with small-molecule inhibitors of these identified cellular pathways, the authors found that they could prevent viral replication. Thus, the article proposes these pathways as targets for new therapies for COVID-19.
Among the compounds tested, I thought it was of note that the anti-viral drug Ribavirin (an FDA-approved nucleotide synthesis inhibitor undergoing clinical trials for COVID-19) effectively inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in their in vitro model at clinically-relevant concentrations.
As exemplified by this recent article, a tremendous amount of work is underway across the globe to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. I eagerly await, as I'm sure we all do, the translation of these efforts into the clinic and new therapies becoming available.
SARS-CoV-2 reshapes central cellular pathways, such as translation, splicing, carbon metabolism and nucleic acid metabolism. Small molecule inhibitors targeting these pathways prevented viral replication in cells.