Coronavirus Breakthrough: Scientists Discover Atomic Map To Help Combat Deadly Virus

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Coronavirus is spreading drastically as more nations report an increasing number of people diagnosed with it. The number of deaths in mainland China has already crossed more than 2,000 and it's speculated to be much more. At the same time, scientists in the US have created the first 3D atomic map of the coronavirus.

Atomic Map
 

Atomic Map

The coronavirus is capable of attaching to the human cells and infecting it. The atomic map of the coronavirus will play a crucial role in developing vaccines and treatments to stop the virus. Going into the details, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied the genetic code of the virus that was made publicly available by the Chinese authorities.

Next, they used it to develop a stabilized sample of a key part called the spike protein. The scientists imaged the spike protein using cryogenic electron microscopy, cutting-edge technology available today. The findings were published in the Science journal.

What Did They Discover?

What Did They Discover?

The spike protein is the antigen that the team of researchers wishes to introduce into humans "to prime their immune response to make antibodies against this, so that when they then see the actual virus, their immune systems are ready and loaded to attack," says scientist Jason McLellan, who led the research, reports AFP.

The team of scientists has spent considerable time studying other members of the coronavirus family such as MERS, SARS, and so on. It has helped them develop the required methods to keep the spike protein stable.

Will It Help Combat Coronavirus?
 

Will It Help Combat Coronavirus?

Presently, the engineered spike protein is being tested as a possible vaccine for the deadly virus by NIH. As part of the continuous developments, the team is sending the atomic map of the virus to collaborators across the world. The idea is to see if it can be further improved by provoking a greater immune response.

Plus, the atomic model can also help researchers worldwide to develop new proteins to bind to different parts of the spike protein and prevent it from functioning. More importantly, it can be used to those infected, which is called as antivirals.

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