Wrocław Prof makes major breakthrough in battle against killer virus

Professor Maciej Drąg says that stopping either of the two key enzymes he has identified “stops the replication of the virus 100 percent.” Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Scientists in Wrocław have made a major breakthrough in the battle against coronavirus after discovering similarities between the COVID-19 killer virus and the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic.

Professor Maciej Drąg and his team from the Wrocław University of Technology analysed two enzymes - proteases SARS-CoV-2 Mpro responsible for the breakdown of proteins in the virus and the newly found SARS-CoV-2-PLpro.

The biochemist said: “The coronavirus causing COVID-19 has two proteases. Stopping either one or the other stops the replication of the virus 100 percent. This is confirmed by medical data. And we're the only laboratory in the world that now has both these proteases in active form and well-profiled."

Professor Drąg’s laboratory is the only one in the world to have both enzymes.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

SARS-CoV-2 creates 29 different proteins, including two proteases - SARS-CoV-Mpro and SARS-CoV-2-PLpro. Although proteases are considered difficult to examine, they are a very good target for medicines. For example, some HIV drugs, hepatitis C, diabetes mellitus type 2, and new generation anticancer drugs are based on proteases.

SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to SARS-CoV-1. Their proteases also work in a similar manner, which means that information from previous years can be applied in the current situation.

Professor Shaun Olsen’s laboratory from South Carolina in the United States spent three weeks preparing the enzyme to send it to Wrocław. With the cooperation of Polish FedEx employees the sample reached Professor Drąg’s laboratory before it lost its activity.  

The professor has now come up with several compounds that can selectively inhibit the proteases.PWR

Subsequently, the scientists from the Wrocław University of Technology came up with several compounds that can selectively inhibit the proteases.

As with his previous findings, Professor Drąg hasn’t patent his discovery but published it online for other scientists to review and use in their own research.

He cooperated with several American teams from the Medical University of South Carolina/University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, New York University School of Medicine, and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in California. 

The breakthrough came after discovering similarities between the COVID-19 killer virus and the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic.Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

For professor Drąg’s report click HERE.

To read about professor Drąg’s earlier work on COVID-19 click HERE.