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Fri Feb 28, 2020, 08:26 PM

COVID-19 coronavirus spike holds infectivity details

They are working on a vaccine at the University of Washington.



By closely examining the structure of the new coronavirus spike protein, the researchers did uncover something that sets it apart from the other SARS-related coronaviruses. Walls said that the research team unexpectedly found a furin cleavage site at a boundary between two subunits of the spike protein in the newly emerged coronavirus. It is not yet known if this difference is expanding the kinds of cells the new coronavirus could infect or enhancing its transmissibility, in a way that might be similar to that of highly pathogenic avian flu viruses.

As a whole, details contained in the results reported in this week’s paper may help to explain the efficiency of the new coronavirus in delivering its viral code into human cells, and its rapid transmission among people.

At present, there are no preventatives or approved, specific treatments (aside from experimental therapies) that can be directed at the new coronavirus.

“Our ultimate goal would be if our work could contribute as a step towards a vaccine, antiviral or any sort of therapy that currently does not yet exist,” Walls said, and added that it would be fantastic if her team’s scientific efforts could be a step towards being helpful to people in that way.

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