Coronavirus

Enzymes in Bacteria Could Help Fight Coronavirus – Weizmann Institute

In humans virus-fighting enzymes, known as viperins, are released into the bloodstream when the body detects an infection

The Jerusalem Post • TAGS: Virus, Immune system, Bacteria

Screen Shot 2020 09 22 At 10.03.07 AM
Bacteria as seen under a microscope (photo credit: WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE)

Virus-fighting enzymes, known as viperins, which have been previously thought to exist only in mammals, have been also detected in bacteria and are being tried against human viruses, including the coronavirus, according to a new study led by a team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science, which was published in the leading scientific magazine Nature.

The team, led by Professor Rotem Sorek from the Molecular Genetics Department in the institute, discovered that bacteria produce a large variety of antiviral substances that have the potential to help fighting viral diseases.

Moreover, the researchers have discovered that the way bacteria react to viral infection may suggest a possible evolutionary link to human immune system, suggesting that humans and bacteria share something in common on the molecular level.

In humans, viperins are released into the bloodstream when the body detects an infection. The viperins, which act against a wide range of viral infections, prevent them from spreading throughout the body by releasing a special molecule that engages the virus.

Viruses spread by replicating themselves. For a virus to replicate itself successfully, it needs a host - a human cell. Once a virus successfully penetrates into human cell, it normally uses it to reproduce - unless a viperin greets them first.

The molecules released by the viperins act as “fake” human cells, meaning that they lack the necessary genetic material for reproduction - the part that the virus immediately seeks to attach itself to once it is inside the human cell.

Once a virus attaches itself to the molecule that was released by the viperin, it’s game over, the virus cannot reproduce and dies.

Interestingly enough, bacteria viperins appear to be a lot more successful in tackling viruses than their human counterparts.

“Whereas the human viperins produces a single kind of antiviral molecule, we found that the bacterial ones generate a surprising variety of molecules, each of which can potentially serve as a new antiviral drug,” Sorek explained.

This new understanding may lead the way to the development of a broad range of antiviral drugs, even ones that can be used against coronavirus.

“As we did decades ago with antibiotics – antibacterial substances that were first discovered in fungi and bacteria – we might learn how to identify and adopt the antiviral strategies of organisms that have been fighting infection for hundreds of millions of years,” Sorek added.

Coronavirus

Enzymes in Bacteria Could Help Fight Coronavirus – Weizmann Institute

In humans virus-fighting enzymes, known as viperins, are released into the bloodstream when the body detects an infection

The Jerusalem Post • TAGS: Virus , Immune system , Bacteria

Screen Shot 2020 09 22 At 10.03.07 AM
Bacteria as seen under a microscope (photo credit: WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE)

Virus-fighting enzymes, known as viperins, which have been previously thought to exist only in mammals, have been also detected in bacteria and are being tried against human viruses, including the coronavirus, according to a new study led by a team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science, which was published in the leading scientific magazine Nature.

The team, led by Professor Rotem Sorek from the Molecular Genetics Department in the institute, discovered that bacteria produce a large variety of antiviral substances that have the potential to help fighting viral diseases.

Moreover, the researchers have discovered that the way bacteria react to viral infection may suggest a possible evolutionary link to human immune system, suggesting that humans and bacteria share something in common on the molecular level.

In humans, viperins are released into the bloodstream when the body detects an infection. The viperins, which act against a wide range of viral infections, prevent them from spreading throughout the body by releasing a special molecule that engages the virus.

Viruses spread by replicating themselves. For a virus to replicate itself successfully, it needs a host - a human cell. Once a virus successfully penetrates into human cell, it normally uses it to reproduce - unless a viperin greets them first.

The molecules released by the viperins act as “fake” human cells, meaning that they lack the necessary genetic material for reproduction - the part that the virus immediately seeks to attach itself to once it is inside the human cell.

Once a virus attaches itself to the molecule that was released by the viperin, it’s game over, the virus cannot reproduce and dies.

Interestingly enough, bacteria viperins appear to be a lot more successful in tackling viruses than their human counterparts.

“Whereas the human viperins produces a single kind of antiviral molecule, we found that the bacterial ones generate a surprising variety of molecules, each of which can potentially serve as a new antiviral drug,” Sorek explained.

This new understanding may lead the way to the development of a broad range of antiviral drugs, even ones that can be used against coronavirus.

“As we did decades ago with antibiotics – antibacterial substances that were first discovered in fungi and bacteria – we might learn how to identify and adopt the antiviral strategies of organisms that have been fighting infection for hundreds of millions of years,” Sorek added.